Saturday February 16, 2019

Brett Lee: Hearing Loss is Curable

Identifying children with hearing loss at birth can ensure treatment and save them from further deterioration such as deficit in hearing, understanding speech, speaking and language deficits

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Brett Lee: Hearing Loss is Curable
Brett Lee: Hearing Loss is Curable. (IANS)

Creating awareness about Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS), former Australian cricket sensation Brett Lee on Wednesday said hearing loss is treatable and early screening and intervention can ensure a normal life for children with profound hearing loss.

“No one in this world deserves to live in silence. People should know that hearing loss is treatable and that it should not prevent a person from leading an active, full life. Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) can help address these issues early in life,” Lee told reporters here.

The former pacer is also the Global Hearing Ambassador with global implantable hearing aid firm Cochlear.

“There is an urgent need of making the ‘new-born screen test’ for hearing mandatory as well as for educating parents of children with hearing loss so that they make the best intervention at the earliest,” said Lee, who began spearheading the cause of hearing loss three years ago, in the wake of an accident that temporarily impaired his son’s hearing.

Deafness, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), refers to the complete loss of hearing ability in one or both ears, while “hearing impairment” refers to both complete and partial loss of hearing ability. Nearly 360 million people, nearly one-tenth of them children, suffer from hearing loss worldwide.

“About one lakh children born in India every year suffer from severe to profound hearing loss. Overall the figure may be 10 lakhs,” Shalabh Sharma, ENT surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Identifying children with hearing loss at birth can ensure treatment and save them from further deterioration such as deficit in hearing, understanding speech, speaking and language deficits, Sharma said.

“If children are tested as soon as they are born and get diagnosed with mild to moderate loss, then within a few months (0-6 months) they can be fitted with hearing aids and the children can live normal life like their peers,” he noted.

Besides, screening of the newborns, parents need to intervene at the slightest suspicion about their child’s ability to hear. A hearing test is cheap and readily available at various audiology and hearing test clinics.

Also Read: Smoking may up risk of hearing loss

Hearing loss occurs due to a number of reasons such as genetic; infections such as measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis; complications at birth, including prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal jaundice; and because of in-vitro exposure to some harmful medicines that expectant mothers use.

While UNHS has been made mandatory in developed countries such as the US, Europe and Australia, India has still not included it in the list of health screening procedures for the newborns, Sharma said.

Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants bypass the damaged hair cells of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.

The implant electrodes stimulate the cochlea’s hearing nerve, which then sends the impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as sound. (IANS)

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According to UN, 1 Billion People Risk Hearing Loss from Loud Music

That study, she says, focused on the listening habits of young people and the volume of sound to which they were generally exposed.

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Loud Music, Hearing Loss
U.N. agencies warn listening to loud music is unsafe and can cause permanent damage to hearing. VOA

U.N. agencies warn that more than 1 billion people ages 12 to 35 risk losing their hearing from listening to loud music on their audio devices. The World Health Organization, and the International Telecommunication Union, are launching new international standards to make smartphones and other devices safer for listening.

Listening to music is one of life’s greatest pleasures. U.N. health experts say they do not want to deprive younger people of the enjoyable experience of listening to music regularly on their headphones. But they warn listening to loud music is unsafe and can cause permanent damage to hearing.

The World Health Organization says it has no clear evidence that 1.1 billion people are at risk of developing hearing problems. However, WHO technical officer for the prevention of deafness and hearing loss Shelly Chadha said the figure is based on a study conducted four years ago.

Hearing Loss
The World Health Organization says it has no clear evidence that 1.1 billion people are at risk of developing hearing problems. Pixabay

That study, she says, focused on the listening habits of young people and the volume of sound to which they were generally exposed. She said this information has been valuable in working on solutions for preventing hearing loss.

“So, our effort through this standard is really to empower the user to make the right listening choice and decision, either to practice safe listening or to take the risk of developing hearing loss and tinnitus down the line.

The main recommendations for safe listening include having software on personal audio devices that measures how long and how loudly a user has been listening to music. They also call for automatic volume reduction systems on smartphones and other devices, as well as parental volume control.

The U.N. agencies say they hope governments and manufacturers will adopt the suggested standards, as disabling hearing loss is set to increase significantly in the coming years.

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The WHO and ITU report 466 million people suffer from the disability, most in low- and middle-income countries. It estimates the number will rise to more than 900 million people by 2050. The agencies say half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures. (VOA)