Every year on March 3rd, the hard of hearing community unites together for a cause that affects them daily. The World Hearing Day campaign, held by the World Health Organization’s Office of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, works to raise awareness for hearing loss and promote ear and hearing wellness around the world. This year’s theme, “Check Your Hearing,” spotlights the dangers of unidentified and untreated hearing loss.

Despite recent advancements in hearing technology, hearing loss remains one of our country’s most common chronic health conditions. Worldwide, over 466 million people currently suffer from disabling hearing loss – about 6.1 percent of the total population. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that this number could rise to 630 million by 2030 and 900 million by 2050. Early identification and treatment of hearing loss is vital.

What’s stopping individuals from seeking treatment for their hearing loss? Shari Robertson, President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), says adults don’t seek treatment because of the “pervasive perception that hearing loss is simply a nuisance rather than a serious medical condition that can affect one’s overall health, mental health, job and career success, personal relationships and social life, and general quality of life.” This doesn’t just affect a few individuals, either. In just the senior population alone (individuals aged 70 and older), one in three with hearing loss have never even used a hearing aid.

It’s my belief that being able to hear the world and the people around us is as essential to our lives as breathing. Through Starkey, it has been my mission to destigmatize hearing loss and help people suffering reach their full potential. This is evident in everything I do – from free hearing tests to global outreach with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to providing innovative hearing aid technologies. Our hearing devices do more than just improve hearing health, they work to improve every aspect of a user’s life. Our newest digital hearing device, Livio AI, also detects falls and serves as an in-ear assistant to deliver hands-free help to the wearer whenever and wherever they need it.

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If you suffer from disabling hearing loss or even just have difficulty understanding conversations in noisy places, it’s crucial to get your hearing checked. Starkey offers a free online hearing test that encourages people to check their hearing on their own mobile devices. It’s important to remember that once hearing is lost, it won’t come back. So, this World Hearing Day take a moment to nurture your hearing health.

When you protect your hearing, you’re protecting a valuable gift that allows you to enjoy life to its fullest. After all, it is my belief that when you hear better, you live better.