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World Hearing Day emphasizes importance of ear health

close up of the side of a child's face laying down, a finger points to the ear from above. jpg

March 3 is recognized by the World Health Organization as World Hearing Day — an important reminder to proactively take care of your hearing health. For many of us, spoken language connects us to other people and the world around us.

Dr. Marquitta Merkison is a certified Audiologist and Associate Director of Audiology Practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

“It's really important that we all know that when you lose your hearing, it doesn't come back. So if you pay attention to what your ears are telling you, you can really protect yourself and have hearings for many years as you go into the later stages of life,” said Dr. Merkison.

There are measures that can be taken to prevent hearing loss. According to Dr. Merkison, this includes keeping away from loud speakers, lowering the volume of music to below 50%, and taking listening breaks from headphones throughout the day.

Hearing loss affects a surprising number of people throughout the course of their lives.

“So, about 48 million people in the United States have some degree of hearing loss. And I think a lot of times we think of hearing loss as being something that only happens to older people. But almost 15% of school-aged children have hearing loss in either one or both ears,” Dr. Merkison said.

Dr. Merkison strongly encourages people to make hearing health a part of their day to day lives. This includes checking in with your doctor and potentially an audiologist. Audiologists are trained professionals that can test your exact hearing levels and help connect patients with treatment.

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Erin Lewis is a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a PhD Candidate in the biology department at Utah State University. She is passionate about fostering curiosity and communicating science to the public. At USU she studies how anthropogenic disturbances are impacting wildlife, particularly the effects of tourism-induced dietary shifts in endangered Bahamian Rock Iguana populations. In her free time she enjoys reading, painting and getting outside with her dog, Hazel.