Hearing loss is a medical condition that is often under-diagnosed, yet it significantly impacts the physical and mental health of those who experience any degree of hearing difficulty.
It is a disabling condition that is being referred to as the “invisible epidemic”, affecting more than three million South Africans and over 1.5 billion people globally.
Shockingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in just two more decades, this number will exceed 2.5 billion.
To raise awareness about this critical issue, Bonitas Medical Fund is offering free online hearing screening for all South Africans. This initiative aims to encourage more people to get screened for hearing loss and receive the necessary treatment.
One of the biggest concerns associated with hearing loss is the long-term impact it has on the quality of life. Prevention and early detection are crucial as hearing is the foundation for speech and language development, as well as learning and communication.
To make this functionality available to all South Africans, the Medical Fund has partnered with hearConnect and introduced an online hearing screener on its website, www.bonitas.co.za.
Speaking about the initiative, principal officer of Bonitas Lee Callakoppen said, ‘’We are committed to helping people take control of their health, and this initiative is just one way we are doing that.’’
If you suspect that you or someone you know may be experiencing hearing loss, take advantage of this free online hearing screening and seek the necessary treatment to improve your quality of life. Remember, prevention and early detection are key.
How does it work?
The online, validated speech-in-noise hearing test uses the latest in audiological technology.
This is combined with the highest standards of clinical expertise and is available on the website. In just two minutes you can test your hearing status.
How long does the test take?
You can take the exam at any time as long as you have access to a computer or a smartphone, some headphones or earplugs, and a quiet place. If the screening test reveals that you have hearing loss, hearConnect can help you through the next steps.
What happens after?
In the event that hearing loss is found, this also includes a follow-up visit with ongoing treatment measures.
Hearing loss comes with a lot of difficulties. These include language development, which affects our abilities in reading, writing, spelling, and focus. It impairs social skills, which causes loneliness, depression, cognitive impairment, unemployment, and a higher chance of dementia.
Hearing loss also has a direct impact on healthcare costs. “As a medical scheme, we know that patients with untreated hearing loss experience more inpatient stays compared to those without hearing loss,” said Callakoppen.
What causes hearing loss
Hearing loss can come about as you age or as a result of loud noises, illnesses and diseases. Genetics and trauma (contact sports) can also cause hearing loss. Other factors, such as too much earwax, also reduce your ability to hear.
Don’t blast your eardrums
Overexposure to loud music – or any loud noises - can be harmful. Research indicates that hearing loss results from a combination of sounds being too loud, listening to loud sounds over an extended period and the frequency of exposure.
A BMJ Global Health review recently reported that pumping tunes listened to via ear buds or even live could be placed up to 1.35 billion young people at risk of hearing loss worldwide.