Macquarie cares about hearing health

With a quarter of Australians set to face serious problems from hearing loss, it’s time for a new awareness campaign…

Today, on World Hearing Day, the Director of Macquarie University’s Australian Hearing Hub has called on the Federal Government to support a public and GP awareness campaign to protect Australians from permanent and avoidable hearing loss.

Macquarie University Audiology School
Director of the Australian Hearing Hub Professor David McAlpine (Photo: Macquarie University)

Globally, 360 million people experience hearing loss and one in six Australians are currently affected by a hearing impairment, resulting in a wide range of adverse health, social, and financial impacts.

With this number set to increase to one in four by 2050, Professor David McAlpine, Director of Macquarie University’s Australian Hearing Hub, says we should stop treating our hearing like a second-class sense.

“Hearing loss has a profound impact on the lives, employment, and finances of many Australians,” Professor McAlpine said.

“When you add in the costs to relationships, performance at work, and impacts to health, there is an urgent need for more Australians to know about the risks and have their hearing checked more often.

“Most Australians are unaware of the permanent damage even social noise can do to them, with studies showing a 25 decibel rise, indicating a mild hearing loss, can correlate to a seven year cognitive decline.

“We need a national hearing awareness campaign now to protect more Australians, similar to those that have helped many people quit smoking, avoid the sun, and practice safe sex.”

Professor McAlpine says a campaign should focus on three main pillars: raising awareness, prevention and regular check-ups, with support for GPs to assist patients. The approach parallels that of the World Health Organization, which recently highlighted the need for a renewed global resolution on the prevention of hearing loss, with the last resolution occurring over 20 years ago in 1995, focusing on awareness and action.

“Most Australians are completely unaware of the hearing damage they may be experiencing in everyday life, let alone the importance of getting their hearing checked regularly,” Professor McAlpine said.

“Exacerbating the issue is that most healthcare workers are not currently required to inquire about a patient’s hearing health, whereas eye testing is more actively encouraged.”

“Around 4 million Australians are affected by hearing impairment, with a reported $11 billion cost annually to the Australian economy, not to mention the fact that hearing-loss is known to exacerbate a person’s other existing health conditions,” Professor McAlpine explained.

As the World Health Organization campaigns to raise global awareness of hearing impairment and prevention of hearing loss in ‘children of the world’ during World Hearing Day this year, Professor McAlpine says it is also vital for Australians to remember that this is an issue affecting people of all ages, and that hearing and communication solutions can be tailored to individual need.

Professor McAlpine is the head of Macquarie Hearing Hub—whose members include Cochlear Limited, Australian Hearing, National Acoustics Laboratory, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) and its associated cochlear-implant service, Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC), The Shepherd Centre, The HEARing CRC, and The ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD).

Members of the Hub work together and with other hearing health organisations to promote better hearing health and access to hearing solutions for all Australians in need.

Study audiology at Macquarie University

The Master of Clinical Audiology program at Macquarie University Audiology School is dedicated to preparing students to become professional audiologists. The university’s audiology program provides supervised clinical placements to hone its students’ professional skills. As well, numerous modules of scientific coursework allow students to learn the scientific fundamentals of audiology and understand the processes that contribute to congenital or acquired hearing loss and vestibular dysfunctions.

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