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World Hearing Day March 3rd 2017

‘Action for Hearing Loss’

Posted: 3rd March World Hearing Day March 3rd 2017.

March 3rd is World Hearing Day, and this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the theme for 2017 as Action for Hearing Loss.

The WHO estimate that there are 360 million people with a disabling hearing loss around the world, and the annual cost is conservatively estimated at €700 billion. The associated cost in Ireland is over €500m per year. The WHO want to draw attention to hearing loss, its economic impact and the cost effectiveness of interventions to address it.


In Ireland since 2013, the introduction of Newborn Hearing Screening has been an important step in diagnosing hearing loss earlier in children.

We have also reduced the impact of occupational noise as a cause of hearing loss, but there has been a significant increase in the prevalence caused by recreational noise, primarily through listening to music on portable devices.

However, of the 250,000 Irish adults with significant hearing loss, less than one third of them have a diagnosis or have hearing aids.

Reasons for this include a lack of awareness among health professionals, the high costs of hearing aids, and the social stigma associated with hearing loss and the wearing of hearing aids. In fact people wait an average of ten years between acquiring a hearing loss and taking action. This delay has a detrimental impact not only on them, but also on family and friends.


People wait an average of ten years between acquiring a hearing loss and taking action


Impact of Hearing loss

Hearing loss affects communication, so its impact on individuals and their families is multi-faceted and affects all aspects of daily life:

  • Places a strain on family and social relationships
  • Up to three times more likely to suffer from depression
  • Higher rates of social isolation and loneliness
  • Faster rates of cognitive decline: people with hearing loss are 2–5 times more likely to have dementia.
  • Poorer memory function and increased fatigue
  • More likely to be unemployed or to retire early.


If you suspect you have a hearing loss, get your hearing tested as soon as possible!

Don’t delay, it won’t go away!


Taking Action

A key priority is to get people who have developed a hearing loss to seek treatment earlier. There are over 150,000 Irish adults at present who need hearing aids but don’t have them. Hearing aids are an excellent solution for most people, and earlier treatment results in better outcomes.

What the individual can do:

If you suspect you have a hearing loss, get your hearing tested as soon as possible! Don’t delay, it won’t go away!

If you have a medical card, you can avail of free audiology services from the HSE, including hearing aids if required. Visit your GP as soon as you can to get a referral.

If you qualify for treatment benefit through PRSI, you can get a grant of up to €1,000 towards the costs of hearing aids. From the end of March 2017, self-employed people may qualify for treatment benefit also for the first time.

What health professionals can do:

Be mindful that hearing loss is very common (the third most common health condition in adults), and encourage clients who you think may have hearing loss to get their hearing checked. GPs have a big role to play here.

What the State can do:

Make it easier for people to get hearing aids, especially those who are purchasing for the first time. The Department of Social Protection should double the treatment benefit grant for people who are getting hearing aids for the first time.

What society can do:

Be patient if you are speaking to someone who has a hearing loss: speak clearly and please don’t get annoyed if you are asked to repeat what you have said.  

If you have a family member or colleague who has a hearing loss but has not yet taken any steps to address it, encourage them gently to take action. Tell them they are one of 150,000 people who need to address their hearing loss to get their life back on track again.

Media Contacts will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request.

To contact Mark Byrne, Chief Executive DeafHear, click here...

To contact Brendan Lennon; Head of Advocacy DeafHear, click here...





more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.


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