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World Hearing Day: March 3 – Prevent Hearing Loss

Woman clutching headphones and wincing

Repeated exposure to loud noise over the years can cause hearing loss. There is no cure for hearing loss! Protect your hearing by avoiding loud noise such as concerts and sporting events. Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to protect your ears. If you already have hearing loss, take steps to keep it from getting worse.

CDC supports the World Health Organization’s World Hearing Day, an annual event held on March 3rd each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. World Hearing Day was designated at the First International Conference on Prevention and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment in Beijing, China in 2007.

The theme for the World Hearing Day 2018 is “Hear the future … and prepare for it.” With the theme “Hear the future”, World Hearing Day 2018 will draw attention to the anticipated increase in the number of people with hearing loss around the world in the coming decades. It will focus on preventive strategies to stem the rise and outline steps to ensure access to the necessary rehabilitation services and communication tools and products for people with hearing loss.

Did You Know?

According to the World Health Organization …

360 million people live with disabling hearing loss

more than 1 billion young people (12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds

$750 billion is the overall cost of unaddressing hearing loss globally

Hand turning up volume knob

Turn down the volume.

Woman getting ear exam

By the time you notice hearing loss, many hair cells have been destroyed and cannot be repaired.

Useful Info

Repeated exposure to loud noise over the years can damage your hearing. Damaged inner ear cells do not grow back.

Think you’re well aware of how to protect yourself? When it comes to hearing loss, we can all think of the usual suspects: listening to fireworks, attending sporting events, and loud concerts.

However, you may be surprised to learn that everyday activities such as using power tools, mowing the lawn, or attending a fitness class with loud music can damage hearing.

  • Is the noise too loud? If you need to raise your voice to make yourself heard, yes.
  • After a very loud event, such as a concert or football game, normal hearing usually returns within a few hours to a few days—however, repeated exposure to loud noises will eventually damage the inner ear permanently.
  • Ways to protect your hearing include turning the volume down, of course, and also taking periodic breaks from the noise and using hearing protection such as earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Signs that you may have hearing loss include difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds (e.g., doorbell, telephone, alarm clock) and difficulty understanding conversations in a noisy place.

By the Numbers

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine is about 95 dB. Loud noise over a prolonged period of time may damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB, even for a short period of time, can cause immediate harm.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States. Almost twice as many people report hearing loss as report diabetes or cancer. In the United States, about 40 million adults aged 20–69 years have noise-induced hearing loss, and about 1 in 4 adults who report “excellent to good” hearing already have hearing damage.

Think that hearing damage is usually workplace-related? Actually, activities away from work can damage hearing just as much a noisy job. Over half of all adults with hearing damage do not have noisy jobs.

The average person is born with about 16,000 hair cells within their inner ear. These cells allow your brain to detect sounds. By the time changes in your hearing can be measured by a hearing test, up to 30% to 50% of hair cells can be damaged or destroyed.

There is no cure for hearing loss! Damaged inner ear cells do not grow back. Protect your hearing, and if you already have hearing loss, take steps to keep it from getting worse.

  • Page last reviewed: February 26, 2018
  • Page last updated: February 26, 2018
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