A Warning From The World Health Organisation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that 1 in 4 people worldwide will have hearing problems by 2050. At least 700 million of these people will require hearing care or rehabilitation unless action is taken.
“Our ability to hear is precious. Untreated hearing loss can have a devastating impact on people’s ability to communicate, to study and to earn a living. It can also impact on people’s mental health and their ability to sustain relationships,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
The report suggested that lack of accurate information and stigmatising attitudes to hearing loss often prevent people from accessing care for these conditions. The negative attitudes of hearing aids can sometimes put people off for fear of feeling ‘old’ or ‘disabled’; additionally, some people put hearing loss down to just ‘getting old’.
Main Causes Of Hearing Loss
In children, almost 60% of hearing loss can be prevented through measures such as: immunisation for prevention of rubella and meningitis, improved maternal and neonatal care, and screening for, and early management of otitis media – inflammatory diseases of the middle ear. In adults, noise control, safe listening and surveillance of ototoxic medicines together with good ear hygiene can help maintain good hearing and reduce the potential for hearing loss.
Identification is the first step in addressing hearing loss and related ear diseases. Clinical screening at strategic points in life ensure that any loss of hearing and ear diseases can be identified as early as possible.
Early Intervention Is Key
Once diagnosed, early intervention is the key to potentially reversing effects of hearing loss through medical and surgical treatments. Where hearing loss is irreversible, rehabilitation can ensure that those affected avoid the negative impacts of hearing loss. The WHO report claims that “Hearing technology, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, when accompanied by appropriate support services and rehabilitative therapy are effective and cost-effective and can benefit children and adults alike”.
Our hearing is vital to our physical and mental health, and it is important we protect it by consulting an audiologist as soon as we notice a change in our hearing.
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