Check Your Hearing – World Hearing Day
Check Your Hearing – World Hearing Day
Highlights:

  • World Hearing Day
    is observed every year on the 3rd
    of March
  • There are 466
    million people across the world with disabling hearing loss according to
    WHO
  • The number could
    rise to 900 million by 2050 if no action is taken
  • Emphasis is on
    early identification and intervention for hearing loss, this World Hearing
    Day
  • This year, WHO has developed a mobile app called
    hearWHOto help in hearing screening for adults

The World
Health Organization (WHO) has been observing World Hearing Day every year on the 3rd
of March, since 2007, aiming to prevent deafness and promote ear and hearing
care. The day has been marked by a unique theme every year and the latest
data available is presented through various mediums like banners and
infographics. While the theme in 2018
was ‘Hear the Future,’ 2019 is the year for ‘Check your Hearing!’
The year
2018 also witnessed the launch of the ‘Make Listening Safe’ initiative to
promote safe listening practices. An annual seminar would be arranged in the
WHO Headquarters in Geneva akin to the one held in 2018.

Hearing Loss – Figures and Impacts

  • Over 460 million
    people around the world have disabling hearing loss of which around 34
    million are children.
  • By 2050, this
    number is expected to rise to 900 million.
  • More than one
    billion young adults aged between 12 and 35 years are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to higher recreational
    noise levels
  • Around one-third
    of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss

Unaddressed
hearing loss has been annually costing $750 billion globally.
It adds to
health system costs by increasing the need for ear and hearing care services
and resources. In addition to this, it also poses a threat in achieving the
goal of education to all, in turn leading to low productivity due to
unemployment.

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The impact of
unaddressed hearing loss at the individual and family levels is also significant.
Children may face difficulty in developing spoken language abilities, could
have delayed language development and would require additional support in
education. On the other hand, adults may struggle to secure employment and
receive competent wages, in addition to facing emotional distress in everyday
life and decline in cognition in the case of older people with
hearing loss. 

Addressing Hearing Loss

The primary
causes of hearing loss
have been identified as inherited diseases,
infections, continued exposure
to loud noise
, drugs and aging. Many of these causes leading to
hearing loss could be prevented by approaches like immunization and restricted
exposure to loud noise. Adopting strategies like immunization would help in
effective prevention of hearing loss
in children that occur as a result of
infections like rubella, meningitis
and mumps.

‘World Hearing Day is observed on the 3rd of March every year. The emphasis is on early identification and intervention for hearing loss. This year WHO has developed a mobile app called ‘hearWHO’ to assist in screening for hearing in adults to check their hearing status and monitor it over time.’
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Assistive
listening devices, cochlear implants and rehabilitation are options available
for people who have developed hearing loss. Most importantly early identification along with timely
interventions is crucial in addressing hearing loss and the WHO has made this
the theme of World Hearing Day 2019.

Early Identification

WHO has prescribed recommendations to help adopt measures for early
identification. These include newborn screening soon after birth and
intervention in the form of therapy and assistive devices for those detected
with hearing loss.
Regular testing of children in schools, focussing on common ear
conditions and hearing loss by adopting screening programs is also recommended. Frequent screening for at-risk
populations exposed to high levels of noise at
work
or recreational settings and those who take drugs causing
hearing loss. For older people aged above 60 years annual screening is
recommended to identify age-related hearing
loss and treating it.

hearWHO – The Mobile App

‘hearWHO’ is a software application that has been
developed by the WHO to assist in screening for hearing in adults.
The app, available for free download on both Android and iOS platforms,
offers a test based on validated digits-in-noise technology.

The hearWHOapp allows a user to check their hearing status and also
monitor it over time. It displays the results clearly and helps maintain a
personalized track record of hearing status.
Use of the app is highly recommended for those at a higher risk of hearing
loss, in various settings and those who fail the screening should be prescribed
medical attention.

Conclusion

Hearing loss is not always very apparent. Signs to watch out for include
raised volume while conversing, missing parts of conversations, asking people
to repeat and ringing sensation in the ears. Use of ‘hearWHO’ could be an initial step in screening to ensure
better outcomes for individuals in various aspects like education and quality
of life.

References :

  1. WHO – Deafness Prevention – (https://www.who.int/deafness/en/)

Source: Medindia

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