Deaf Awareness Week: Brits Are Sitting On Hearing Loss Timebomb

Pardon? Why Brits Are In ‘Deafness Denial’

Pardon? Excuse me? Eh? If you are forever being told to turn the TV down, regularly ask for a question to be repeated three times or more, or struggle to hear in a crowded room - chances are you're losing your hearing... but are yet to admit it.

Despite the fact that deafness is a socially isolating condition that can deeply affect a person's self-confidence, research suggests it can take up to 15 years for some people to seek help.

According to Action on Hearing Loss, around 4 million Brits have undiagnosed hearing problems and maintain 'deafness denial' because of the stigma attached.

So why are Brits so hesitant to take that first step, when the majority wouldn't think twice about booking an eye test?

While hearing loss among older people is relatively common (presbycusis), a recent study by Specsavers discovered that one in three people with hearing difficulties admit to being 'too embarrassed' to wear a hearing aid and refuse to visit an audiologist for advice.

But this reluctance can lead to exacerbated problems down the line. While an early diagnosis can significantly reduce the impact of hearing loss, say experts, 14.5 million people in Britain will have some form of hearing loss by 2013 because they refuse to accept the problem.

To help tackle the stigma, Specsavers have teamed up with Action on Hearing Loss and have pledged to help over one million people by offering free hearing checks at in-store Specsavers Hearing Centres.

"We are calling on the government to commit to a national strategy for dealing with hearing loss and to prioritise it in line with other major health issues, such as dementia," chief executive from Action on Hearing Loss, Jackie Ballard, told HuffPost Lifestyle.

"Poor communication is the most serious barrier for people with hearing loss and can have significant personal and social costs, leading to social isolation and mental health issues. Anything we can do to remove the stigma and encourage people to take action and seek help will have a huge impact."

Deafness also affects a large number of number of children, teenagers and young adults.

According to Hearing Direct, 840 babies a year are born with a significant hearing impairment and around 1 in 1,000 children suffer from hearing problems.

Recently, Coldplay's Chris Martin supported the Loud Music campaign, highlighting the damage that prolonged exposure to loud levels of noise and music from MP3 players can have on teens' ears.

Musicians including Plan B and Gary Numan all spoke out about their experiences of loud music-related hearing loss symptoms such as tinnitus (high-pitched ringing in the ear).

For more information about Deafness Awareness Week, take a look here.


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