Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Don’t let hearing loss limit you–WHO

Published:Wednesday | March 4, 2020 | 12:19 AM

The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted that timely and effective interventions can ensure that people with hearing loss are able to achieve their full potential.

Yesterday was celebrated as World Hearing Day, and according to WHO, at all life stages, communication and good hearing health connect us to each other, our communities, and the world. WHO said for those who have hearing loss, appropriate and timely interventions can facilitate access to education, employment and communication.

Overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.

In children under 15 years of age, 60 per cent of hearing loss is attributable to preventable causes. This figure is higher in low- and middle-income countries (75 per cent) as compared to high-income countries (49 per cent). Overall, preventable causes of childhood hearing loss include:

Below are some simple strategies for prevention of hearing loss include:

n immunising children against childhood diseases, including measles, meningitis, rubella and mumps;

n immunising adolescent girls and women of reproductive age against rubella before pregnancy;

n preventing cytomegalovirus infections in expectant mothers through good hygiene; screening for and treating syphilis and other infections in pregnant women;

n strengthening maternal and child health programmes;

n following healthy ear care practices;

n reducing exposure (both occupational and recreational) to loud sounds by raising awareness about the risks; developing and enforcing relevant legislation; and encouraging individuals to use personal protective devices such as earplugs and noise-cancelling earphones and headphones.

n screening of children for otitis media, followed by appropriate medical or surgical interventions;

n avoiding the use of particular drugs which may be harmful to hearing, unless prescribed and monitored by a qualified physician;

n referring infants at high risk, such as those with a family history of deafness or those born with low birth weight, birth asphyxia, jaundice or meningitis, for early assessment of hearing, to ensure prompt diagnosis and appropriate management, as required;

n educating young people and population in general on hearing loss, its causes, prevention and identification.