Thursday March 21, 2019

WHO: Nearly 1 Billion People Risk Hearing Loss by 2050

Problems resulting from hearing loss are expected to rise because of a growing and aging population - a population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050

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An 85-year-old Nepalese man is seen fitted with a hearing aid, in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 12, 2017. VOA

On the occasion of World Hearing Day, Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning one in 10 people globally, or more than 900 million, are at risk of disabling hearing loss by 2050 unless preventive action is taken now.

The World Health Organization reports 466 million people around the world currently suffer from disabling hearing loss. The annual cost to countries in direct health services and lost productivity resulting from this disability is estimated at $750 billion.

Problems resulting from hearing loss are expected to rise because of a growing and aging population – a population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

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Shelly Chadha, a technical officer in the WHO’s Department of Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss, says the rise in the aging population does not mean that an increase in hearing loss is inevitable. She says there are many factors besides aging that affect hearing.

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In cases where hearing loss is unavoidable, the WHO says people can be helped through technologies such as hearing aids and surgically implanted electronic cochlear implants. Pexels

“These may be factors such as infectious diseases, which we may encounter in childhood – rubella or mumps, meningitis or ear infections. There may be factors such as exposure to loud sounds, to loud music or noise at workplaces. Many of these causes are preventable, and by addressing them, we can reduce or minimize the risk of hearing loss,” Chadha said.

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The WHO reports about 60 percent of hearing loss in children can be prevented. Measures include immunizing children against infectious diseases, screening and treating chronic ear infections, avoiding the use of drugs harmful to hearing, and controlling exposure to loud sounds and music.

It says these devices are of great benefit to the hard-of-hearing because they make it possible for them to better communicate and socialize with others. (VOA)

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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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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.

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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)