Early diagnosis of hearing loss in children important, say experts



According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and 34 million out of these are children. Also, upto 60 per cent of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.Another upcoming challenge is that 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.

It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.These statistics were shared by Dr S. Akbar Abbas, consultant ENT, head & neck surgeon and cochlear implant expert at the Aga Khan University Hospital, at a health awareness meeting held on Friday in connection with World Hearing Day in collaboration with Dr Essa Laboratory & Diagnostic Centre.Hearing is vital to communicating, sharing and engaging with the community around us, and hearing loss is considered to be an invisible disability that occurs gradually over time.

“There are many causes of hearing loss, apart from getting old. It can be hereditary or acquired and may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular ototoxic drugs, exposure to excessive noise. It can be triggered by a blast of loud noise, effects of toxin, head injury and certain syndromes like Down’s, Usher’s, Pendred’s and Jervall’s,” Dr Abbas said.“It is also known that hearing loss may occur along with vision impairment, reduced dexterity, and a greater risk of falling.

Hearing impairment can negatively affect interpersonal communication, intimate relationships, access to education, employment opportunities and economic independence. The emotional impacts of hearing loss can be far-reaching. They can cause feelings of distress, frustration, anger, embarrassment, inferiority, shame, loss of identity, rejection, loneliness and lower life expectancy.

“Trouble understanding words or following a conversation, especially in noisy places like restaurants and malls, difficulty making out consonants, trouble hearing high-pitched sounds like doorbells or phones, ringing in your ears, others complaining that you are not hearing well, turning up the television too loud, perception that most people mumble or don’t enunciate well, unable to hear people when they are not looking at you,” said Dr Akbar while discussing signs and symptoms of it.He said people with hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing devices, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.