Hearing loss is preventable
Territorians are being urged to look after their ears and their hearing.
NT Health has made the call to coincide with Hearing Awareness Week (1-7 March) and World Hearing Day (3 March).
Director of Hearing Services at the Top End Health Service, Amarjit Anand, said nationally, almost half (49%) of childhood hearing loss is preventable, as is over a third (37%) of adult hearing loss.
“Good hearing is vital to having a high quality of life,” Mrs Anand said.
“Ear disease prevention in children can include getting their ears checked regularly, washing their face and hands regularly, blowing their nose, a healthy diet with fruit and vegetables, ensure they have their vaccinations, don’t smoke around kids and don’t stick anything in their ears.”
“NT Aboriginal children experience among the highest rates of otitis media, an infection of the middle ear, in Australia. Identifying hearing loss early in children and adults helps with treatment and management and improved quality of life for children,” Mrs Anand said.
You could have a hearing loss if you often ask people to repeat themselves; turn up the volume of the radio or television; have difficulty following conversations in noisy places; have difficulty in understanding what is said over the phone; have problem in hearing sounds like the doorbell, alarm or a telephone ringing; are told by people that you speak loudly or experience tinnitus.
“Get your hearing tested by a professional, an Audiologist. A hearing test is easy and doesn’t take long. Make sure you get it done as soon as possible,” Mrs Anand said.
“Hearing loss also affects those around you such as your partner, family and friends and may result in misunderstandings and frustration. Hearing loss can also add to or worsen depression and dementia.
“One in six Australians currently suffer from hearing loss (3.6 million people) and only one in five Australians who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one,” Mrs Anand said.
NT Health runs the Hearing Health Program, an outreach Audiology and ENT Teleotology service that provide ear and hearing health care to Aboriginal children living in remote and regional communities.
Hearing Services provided services to 103 remote communities last year with the aim to reduce ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal children in remote areas.
The Hearing Health Program can be contacted on phone 8985 8023 or via email: HearingHealthProgramDoH@nt.gov.au
NT Hearing has clinics in Darwin (8922 7110), Katherine (89227110), and Nhulunbuy (89227110) with contact also via email: NTHearing.Darwin@nt.gov.au.
Central Australia Health Service can be contacted at Alice Springs (895 16711).
Some important tips for good ear health and avoiding ear infections are:
- Don’t try to clean your ears by poking anything into the ear canals such as cotton tips. You may injure the delicate skin. Ears are self-cleaning so used a wet cloth to remove wax from your outer ear
- Avoid swimming in dirty water
- Dry your ears after bathing
- Protect your hearing from loud noises at work or concerts with earplugs
- If you listen to music a lot, invest in some over-the-ear headphones, and follow the 60/60 rule: listening at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day
- Don’t forget to take care of the outside of the ear, important in funnelling sound into the ear. Apply sunscreen to the tops and outside ridges of your ears to protect them from sun damage and skin cancers. If you have pierced ears, clean your earrings and earlobes regularly with rubbing alcohol to keep germs at bay.
- Manage stress. Stress and anxiety have been linked to both temporary and permanent tinnitus (a phantom ringing in the ears).