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World Hearing Day: Nearly 700 million people will experience hearing loss by 2050, warns WHO

WHO advises people who are at risk of hearing loss to check their hearing regularly.

Over a billion adolescents and young adults are at risk of avoidable, irreversible hearing loss because of listening to loud music for prolonged time, says the first-ever World Report on Hearing, which would be launched on World Hearing Day 2021.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : March 3, 2021 11:04 AM IST

More than 430 million people worldwide are living with disabling hearing loss, and this number that could grow to nearly 700 million by 2050, warned the first-ever World Report on Hearing (WRH). However, many causes that lead to hearing loss can be prevented, the report noted while calling for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. The World Health Organization (WHO) will be launching the report tomorrow on the occasion of the World Hearing Day 2021.

World Hearing Day is held on March 3 each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day this year is "Hearing care for All - Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate". This year will also mark the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing.

Loud music can cause permanant hearing loss in adolescents

According to the WHO estimates, 60 percent of hearing loss among children is due to preventable causes. Further, the report warned that common practices like listening to music at loud volumes and for prolonged time are putting over a billion adolescents and young adults are at risk of avoidable, irreversible hearing loss.

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Majority of those with disabling hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries, the report stated. This is because these countries lack policies, human resources, infrastructure and awareness required to address hearing loss, the report added.

When unaddressed, hearing loss can hinder language development, communication, cognition, and limit access to education, employment and social interactions.

"The number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable," WHO said while stressing the need for timely action to prevent and address hearing loss across the life course.

To prevent and address hearing loss, the WHO recommends governments to invest in cost effective interventions and integrate person-centred ear and hearing care within national health plans for universal health coverage.

How you can prevent hearing loss

According to WHO, one can avoid hearing loss and related ear diseases through preventative actions such as protection against loud sounds, good ear care practices and immunization. People who are at risk of hearing loss are advised to check their hearing regularly. Early diagnosis and appropriate care are crucial for addressing hearing loss and related ear diseases. The UN health agency recommend people having hearing loss or related ear diseases to seek care from a health care provider.

Hearing problems can be caused by infections, diseases, birth defects, noise exposure and lifestyle choices, all of which could pe prevented.

Mild hearing loss is common with an ear infection, and it often gets better after the infection clears. But recurrent ear infections or fluid in the middle ear, may lead to more-significant hearing loss, according to Mayo Clinic.

Diseases that can cause hearing loss in adults include otosclerosis (middle ear disease), m ni re's disease (inner ear problem), autoimmune inner ear disease, and acoustic neuroma (a tumour that causes hearing loss)

Physical head injury such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), hole in the eardrum, and damage to the middle ear may also lead to hearing loss. In addition, taking large amount of certain medicines like aminoglycoside antibiotics, aspirin, loop diuretics and some chemotherapy drugs may impact hearing. It is advisable to talk with your doctor about the medicines you take.

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