World Health Day: Depression Tops List of Most Widespread Diseases

The latest estimates reveal that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, a figure that has increased by 18 percent from 2005 to 2015. Hearing loss is closely tied to depression, studies confirm.

(Source: pixbay.com)

Today is the World Health Day, the high point in World Health Organization ‘s (WHO) year-long campaign “Depression: Let’s Talk”. Depression is a silent and hidden condition, that can affect anyone. The subtle signs of the disease can easily pass unnoticed, leading to low levels of recognition and access to treatment. In many cases, once the disorder is acknowledged, stigma can be so damaging that sufferers refuse to seek help. WHO warns that untreated depression results in a global economic loss of a trillion US dollars every year, and prompts international governments to allocate more funds to mental health.

Depression is a mental condition characterised by persistent sadness, critically reduced capacity to carry out daily activities, and a feeling of emptiness.

Hearing loss is connected to depression

Unsurprisingly, many studies have confirmed the link between hearing loss and depression. The percentage of depressed adults, particularly women, increases with the decline in hearing, from 5% in those without hearing problems to a staggering 11% in those with hearing impairment, according to a 2014 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

In many of our previous blog posts, the recipients of a bone conduction hearing implant mention social isolation as one of the tolls hearing loss took on them. Mona Andersson, the world’s first recipient of a bone conduction implant, recalls her mental discomfort as her hearing capacity declined in her teen years.

“I felt embarrassed and I would choose to hide myself”, says Mona in an interview with Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Like depression, hearing loss is a silent condition that affects more than 360 million people worldwide – over 5% of the world’s population, warns WHO. Depression, social exclusion, and lower chances of employment are possible effects of disabling hearing loss.

Take the signs of hearing loss seriously

The US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recommends people who answer “yes” to more than two of the questions listed below to visit an audiologist.

  • Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
  • Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
  • Do people complain that you turn the volume of the radio or television up too high?
  • Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  • Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?
  • Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
  • Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  • Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?

The world’s first recipient of a bone conduction implant celebrates 40 years of hearing

News from Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Mona Andersson had suffered from hearing loss for more than 30 years before she could hear again. In 1977, thanks to a medical innovation developed in Gothenburg, her hearing capacity was dramatically improved. Today, forty years later, 150, 000 people have regained their hearing with a bone conduction implant.

img_3561(Photo: Anders Tjellström and Mona Andersson)

Hearing loss is a major public health issue and its impact is set to increase. More than 360 million people live with disabling hearing loss and this figure is set to increase significantly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there will be 1.2 billion people living with disabling hearing loss in 2050. Every year on March 3, WHO celebrates the World Hearing Day, an advocacy event that calls for international action to address hearing loss. This year’s event campaign “Make a sound investment” reveals that unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy a staggering $750 billion annually.

In Sweden alone, about 1.4 million people suffer from hearing impairment, of which 700, 000 need to use hearing aids, according to Hörselskadades Riksförbund, the National Association for Hearing Impairment in Sweden.

Forty years ago, an innovation from Gothenburg created a new industry that was set to restore hearing in many people affected by hearing impairment. Gothenburg resident Mona Andersson was one of those people.

The innovation is based on the concept of osseointegration, a process discovered and coined by Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, when in Gothenburg in the 1960s, he serendipitously discovered that titanium completely fused with bone. The discovery of osseointegration led to the development of the bone conduction hearing implant, pioneered by Anders Tjellström, surgeon and Senior Lecturer at Gothenburg University and member of Brånemark’s research team, in collaboration with Bo Håkansson, Professor at Chalmers Institute.

Already in early childhood, Mona was suffering from bilateral chronic ear infections, caused by scarlet fever. Her natural capacity to hear had dropped dramatically and it was not long before she had serious problems with her hearing. At the age of 15, Mona received her first hearing aid, which improved her hearing slightly, at the cost of constant headaches and embarrassment. When she started working at a plastic factory, she realised that exposure to warm temperatures affected her hearing even more.

She reached a turning point in 1965 when she became a mother.

“I struggled to communicate with my daughter in the first years of her life. I had nothing to lose when I accepted Dr. Tjellström’s proposal to receive a bone conduction implant”, says Mona.

In 1977, Mona underwent the world’s first bone conduction implant surgery, performed by Dr Anders Tjellström at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The implant was specifically designed for patients affected by conductive hearing loss, like Mona. Today its application has increased to treat other types of hearing loss.

“For the first time since childhood I could hear birds singing”, she told Dr. Tjellström when she received her implant. Sounds like the buzz of a fly or ice cubes clinking in a glass, suddenly became new experiences for her.

Forty years after the surgery, Mona celebrates not only functional hearing, but hearing capacity that has gone beyond what most “normal hearing” people can experience. The latest technology, developed in Gothenburg by Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, allows the recipients of a bone conduction implant to stream sound from their phones directly to their ears.

“Bone conduction technology has come a long way. Today, Mona is using a sound processor that has the capacity to adapt to different noise environments, something we had never imagined possible all those years ago”, explains Dr. Tjellström.

More than 150, 000 people worldwide benefit from Gothenburg invention

The bone conduction implant system was approved in Sweden ten years after Mona received her implant. In 1993, the Gothenburg-based Nobel Pharma, whose bone conduction business later became Entific, started commercializing the product. In 2005, international hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear Ltd bought Entific and named it Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, based in Mölnlycke. Today, more than 150, 000 people hear thanks to a bone conduction implant.

“We created the world’s smallest sound processor that is also the first ever to connect wirelessly to electronic devices, allowing users to stream sound directly to the ear. Gothenburg is a unique centre of innovation, where we can benefit from all the expertise, technology, and research of the region, helping us to constantly evolve our industry”, says Rom Mendel, President Acoustics & Managing Director at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Most hearing specialists agree that bone conduction hearing systems are an effective solution for patients with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness.

“The Baha 5 Sound Processor has given me back my life, my true passion”

Shelly Shannon is a first grade teacher from Tampa, Florida. She is passionate about her work and the teacher-student exchange.

“I remember the day I woke up and I couldn’t hear. It took my life away”, says Shelly, worried she’d never be in the classroom again. She recounts the difficulties of working as a teacher affected by hearing loss and the exhaustion she’d experience after a day struggling to hear her students.

As soon as she received her Baha 5 Sound Processor, Shelly’s life came back to normal. The sounds she experiences are clear and crisp, regardless of the situation.

“We sit on the porch, listen to the birds sing, and even through the sound of the rain in the background, I can still have a wonderful conversation with my husband”, Shelly says.

With the Baha 5’s Made for iPhone technology, Shelly can easily stream music, TV shows, and video calls directly to her sound processor. Other features include the True Wireless technology, which, according to Shelly makes hearing even better. The TV streamer, the Phone Clip and the Mini Microphone simplify the experience of sound with no strings attached.

Celebrating World Hearing Day on March 3 with the #happiestsound in the world

Celebrating World Hearing Day on March 3 with the #happiestsound in the world

The World Hearing Day is an annual advocacy event that fosters dialogue on ear care and prevention of hearing problems. In line with this year’s theme, “Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment”, Cochlear celebrates the World Hearing Day with an international campaign.

The importance of raising awareness on hearing impairment was first addressed in 2007 when the World Health Organization (WHO) and China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) partnered in an unprecedented initiative to voice the daily burden of some 360 million people affected by hearing disability. The World Hearing Day, formerly known as International Ear Care Day, resulted from the First International Conference on Prevention and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment, jointly hosted by WHO and CDPF.

According to a 2012 WHO report, about 1 billion young people who are recreationally exposed to high sounds are at risk of developing long-term hearing problems. The same report points out that more than 60% of the childhood hearing loss cases can be prevented by taking specific measures. Coupled with the high incidence rate of hearing impairment in low and middle economies, these figures impose prompt action, and indicate a indicate a strong need to share knowledge and practices across territorial borders.

Awareness campaigns are therefore necessary, not only for spreading valuable information, but also to inspire and encourage people to get actively involved in promoting hearing health.

Cochlear is searching for the Happiest Sound in the World

The Happiest Sound in the World is a social media campaign that aims at raising worldwide awareness on hearing health. People from Sydney to Sao Paulo and London to Los Angeles are invited to share their #HappiestSound with the whole world. Participation is really simple and only takes a matter of minutes. Anyone can just share their happiest sound through video, audio, photograph or even write about it and then post it on social media using the hashtag #HappiestSound.

are invited to share the sounds that make them happiest by using the hashtag #happiestsound. The campaign runs through March 2, 2017, when the Happiest Sound in the World will be revealed.

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(#happiestsound user posts from happiestsound.com)

Visit happiestsound.com to see all happiest sounds, get information about posting, and submit your contact details if you participate in the campaign.

International Cochlear Implant Day and World Hearing Day at the Science Museum in London

Cochlear Europe Ltd invites all Cochlear™ Nucleus® and Cochlear™ Baha® implant recipients and their families to  International Cochlear Implant Day and World Hearing Day, a free of charge event held at the Science Museum in London on February 25, 2017.

linn_friends_guitarParticipants will have the opportunity to learn more about the latest innovations in hearing, meet other recipients, and interact with the Cochlear team. Access is also free for anyone who is considering a Cochlear or Baha implant.

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Children’s language development: What your child should be able to say and hear at age two

Baha Softband child

What’s normal hearing for a one- or two-year old? Sometimes it can be difficult to assess where your child “should be” in terms of speech and hearing.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA), these are the general guidelines you should follow for your child’s development.

For example, a toddler should be able to put two words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”), say more and more words every month, and point to pictures in a book when named.

What can you do to help their language development? For example:

  • Talk while doing things and going places. Point to familiar objects (cars, trees, birds) and say their names. “I see a dog. The dog says ‘woof.’ This is a big dog. This dog is brown.”
  • Use simple but grammatical speech that is easy for your child to imitate.
  • Expand on words. For example, if your child says “car,” you respond by saying, “You’re right! That is a big red car.”

If you suspect that your child may not be hearing properly, contact your local health care professional for a hearing assessment. The sooner you get the evaluation, the better.

Early intervention is the most important thing you can do for your child. Hearing is crucial to the development of their vital speech and language skills. Even minimal hearing loss can lead to learning and behavioural problems that can limit your child –both throughout school and beyond. The sooner your child can hear and use spoken language, the more likely they can overcome the disadvantages of hearing loss to realise their full academic and social potential.

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Read also: Has your child heard 30 million words by their fourth birthday?

Milan from Hungary loves football and his Baha 5 Sound Processor

baha-5-user-milan-juventus

Baha 5 user and football enthusiast Milan Szente shows off his Baha 5 shirt at a recent launch event in Budapest, Hungary.

Milan was born with conductive hearing loss on both ears and has been wearing a Baha solution since he was little. Recently he upgraded from the BP100 to the Baha 5 System, and shared his experiences at the event. It was his very first time talking in front of a big audience!baha-5-small-smart

“I like the new drop-like shape of the Baha 5 Sound Processor, it is very elegant. My friends and family sometimes forget that I wear one, because it is so small! The new technology and the quality of sound are simply great. The accessories for it are very useful and make my life easier.”

Milan revealed that he uses all the Cochlear wireless accessories:

“Currently my favorite is the TV Streamer. I always keep the Remote Control around because it is very important for me. I use the TV Streamer daily, the Mini Mic approximately once a week at school, and the Phone Clip from time to time. When I start University I will probably use the Mini Mic more often, and if I get a job in the future I will use the Phone Clip more frequently – probably while driving.”

Milan enjoys both to play and listen to music. This summer he participated for the second time at the Beats of Cochlea Festival in Poland, an international music festival for hearing impaired people from around the world. He performed on the piece “The beginning” on the e-guitar, his own composition. Something he wouldn’t have been able to do without his Baha solution.

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But what Milan loves most is football – namely Italian team Juventus. He was actually inspired by the Cochlear representative in Central Europe, Antonio Sportelli.

“I am a Juventus fan because I have been inspired by Antonio, since I have met him. Antonio gave me a new nickname, because my name was ‘Milan’ and his favorite club is Juve, so he started calling me ‘Juve’. I am very proud of it. I love the football club because it is very cool and they play very good football. I am also a big fan of my hometown’s club ‘Videoton’. I usually go to matches with my father and friends.”

And his biggest dreams in life?

“I would like to work for Cochlear one day as they “gave me back hearing”, so I can hear now and always! Once in my life I would really like to watch a Juventus match live. I do find the Baha sound processors very interesting, so I would like to visit the Cochlear building in Sweden where they’re made. I would like to become as good in German and Swedish as I am in English (I have a level C1 language certification in English). There’s really no limits to what I can do.”

Read more: The Baha 5 Sound Processor is a Red Dot award winner