By Dr. Radhamadhab Sahu
Hearing or auditory perception is the ability to perceive sounds by detecting vibrations, changes in the pressure of the surrounding medium through time, through an organ such as the ear.
Deafness means loss of hearing and it may be partial or total. Hearing impairment cannot be seen and hence its effects are not visible to others.
Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and 34 million of these are children. 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.
The high burden of deafness globally and in India is largely preventable and avoidable. In India, 63 million people (6.3%) suffer from significant auditory loss.
Nationwide disability surveys have estimated hearing loss to be the second most common cause of disability and top most cause of sensory deficit. A lack of skilled manpower and human resources make this problem a huge challenge.
Hearing loss can affect any age group. Hearing is one of the most important sense organ which cannot be ignored . Hearing impairment is a serious but grossly neglected condition in India. The lack of awareness among all age group is the biggest burden in our society. The number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable. Starting from the birth of a child ,by doing a
proper Neonatal hearing screening for everyone can detect a major chunk of this problem in early stage and save our society from this issue. OAE (Otoacoustic emissions) and BERA test can detect hearing loss in very early stage. In a congenital deaf child we can achieve hearing by doing a cochlear implant surgery in a proper time before the brain plasticity occurs. The child who are congenitally deaf cannot speak too, Cochlear implant surgery with proper rehabilitation can save the child from being dumb . If no intervention is done than child will grow as a deaf & dumb and will be the biggest burden to the worried parents and the society.
Central Govt. is providing the cochlear implant under ADIP scheme to congenital deaf children which cost around 6 lakh as free of cost to poor patients who matches the eligibility criteria. Our center under SOA University is equipped to have this facility and ready to help many needy patients in our state. Investing in cost effective interventions will benefit people with hearing loss and bring financial gains to the society .Many children who were born normal may suffer from some viral fever in young age and can lead to complete loss of hearing and their hearing can be restored by using hearing aid(for moderate loss) and by doing cochlear implant surgery for profound hearing loss.
In an age group between 1 to 15 years many children suffer from hearing loss due to ear infection, that can be prevented by visiting the ENT doctor nearby and taking proper medication in proper time.
With increasing noise pollution, ototoxic drugs, ototoxic chemicals the incidence of old age deafness is on increase. This huge population of senior citizen will be a big liability and great national loss. Hence, we have to make all the efforts.
Now a days due to use of ear phone and listening to high volume music can lead to SNHL( Sensorineural hearing loss) in our younger generation in very early age. The work from home culture due to COVID 19 has increased the use of ear phone which also exposes the ear for more infection and in long run increases the chance of hearing loss in younger age group. Regular hearing test (Pure Tone Audiomerty) and ear examination can detect hearing loss in early stage in elderly age group.
Hearing loss is one of the biggest burden in our society which is grossly neglected due to lack of awareness. Good hearing and communication are important at all stages of life.
Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be avoided through preventative actions such as: protection against loud sounds; good ear care practices and immunization.
World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and to promote ear and hearing care across the world. Each year, the World Health Organization decides the theme.
The theme for World Hearing Day in 2021 is “Hearing care for all !, screen ,rehabilitate ,communicate”.
Few tips to prevent hearing loss
Do not use sharp objects to clean your ears.
Using pins, pencils, needles and other pointed objects to clean your ear can easily damage the wall of the ear canal, or even the ear drum. This would lead to hearing loss. Wax generally comes out of the ear naturally. If there is any impacted / hard wax or excessive wax secretion, get your ears cleaned by an ENT doctor.
Do not insert any objects into the ear canal
Children may insert seeds, grains, pebbles, soil, etc, into the ear canal
during play. In case of adults, insects are the most commonly found foreign bodies.
Get help from an ENT doctor immediately. Foreign bodies may block the ear drum or damage the ear drum, causing a mild to moderate hearing loss.
Do not pour water into the ear, as it may cause infections.
Do not neglect earaches or ear discharge.
Ear infections , if not treated, can cause hearing loss. Consult your ENTdoctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
· Ear pain
· Fluid in the ear
· Itching sensation
· Ringing in the ear
Wear a helmet
Avoid injuries to your head and ears. Road Traffic Accidents may damage hearing. Any injuries to the head may also cause hearing loss. Wear a helmet to protect yourself from road traffic accidents.
Be aware of sources of noise. Exposure to loud and excessive noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Protect your ears from the sounds of gunfire, firecrackers, very loud music, etc. If your job requires you to work in a noisy situation (saw-mills, road construction, printing works, factories, etc.), make sure you wear hearing protective devices such as ear plugs, in order to protect your hearing. Your audiologist will be able to help you select an appropriate hearing protective device.
Do not take medicines indiscriminately.
Certain antibiotics (like streptomycin, kanamycin, and gentamycin) and aspirin may cause hearing loss. If you have to take any of these drugs for a prolonged duration, have your hearing evaluated periodically. If you think your hearing is being affected, talk to your doctor. Check if the dosage can be lowered, or if you can take an alternate medicine.
Discourage marriage between close relatives.
Consanguineous marriages, or marriages among blood relatives, increase the chances of children being born with hearing loss
Take good care of health during pregnancy.
Infections such as measles, mumps, syphilis, and rubella during pregnancy may damage the unborn child’s hearing. Exposure to radiation / X-rays, drug intake during pregnancy, falls and injuries can also affect the child’s hearing.
Pregnant women should meet their doctors regularly for advice on diet, general health and vaccines. This is needed to protect the unborn child from all health problems, including hearing loss.
Rh-incompatibility can also affect the child’s hearing. This condition occurs if the mother’s blood group is –ve and the child’s blood group is +ve (for example, if the mother’s blood group is B – and the child’s blood group is B+).
Prevent ear infection.
While feeding y o u r baby, hol d him/her in a slanting position. This can prevent the baby from having ear infections. Do not pour hot oil or any other liquids into the ear, as it may result in pain and ear discharge. If you swim or dive, use ear plugs to keep the water from entering your ears. Dirty water in the ear might cause infections, too . While blowing your nose, do so gently and from both nostrils. Otherwise, fluids from the nose may be forced into the middle part of the ear, thus causing infections.
Get immunizations done on time.
Diseases l i k e mumps, measles, rubella, encephalitis, meningitis, typhoid, etc. may affect hearing. As far as possible, prevent these diseases and get children vaccinated on time. If you get these diseases, you must get advice from a qualified audiologist.
Get your hearing checked periodically
-Keep in touch with your audiologist
– Get your hearing checked immediately if you find it difficult to hear, or if you feel
one ear is better than the other. Also consult the audiologist in case of
• Any discomfort,
• Ringing in the ear
• family history of hearing loss
• Unclear speech and other sounds
• Difficulty understanding words, especially when there is crowd
• Asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
• High volume of the television or radio is required
• Not active in conversations
• Avoiding people
• Ringing sounds (tinnitus) in the ears
Dr. Radhamadhab Sahu, Head of ENT & Skull Base Surgery, SUM Ultimate Medicare.