Health News Thu, 28 Feb 2013

Millions with hearing loss can be prevented - Report

More than 360 million people in the world have disabling hearing loss, according to new global estimates on prevalence released by the World Health Organization (WHO), for International Ear Care Day on March 3.

The WHO report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said as the population ages globally, more people than ever before are facing hearing loss.

It said one in three persons over the age of 65 years – a total of 165 million people worldwide – lives with hearing loss; although hearing loss from ageing could often be helped with hearing devices, there are not enough produced to meet the need.

It noted that another 32 million affected by hearing loss are children under age of 15.

It said infections of the ear are the leading causes of the disability, especially in low - and middle - income countries.

The report said prevalence of disabling hearing loss is highest in South Asia, Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the latest WHO review of available studies.


It said infectious diseases such as rubella, meningitis, measles and mumps could lead to hearing loss.

“Most of these diseases can be prevented through vaccination.

“Other common causes include exposure to excessive noise, injuries to the ear or head, ageing, genetic causes, problems during pregnancy and childbirth (such as cytomegalovirus infection or syphilis) and the use of medications that can damage hearing,” the report stated.

It said about half of all cases of hearing loss are easily preventable while many can be treated through early diagnosis and suitable interventions such as surgically implanted hearing devices; while individuals with hearing loss could also benefit from sign language training and social support.

The WHO report encourages countries to develop programmes for preventing hearing loss within their primary health care systems, including vaccinating children against measles, meningitis, mumps and rubella, screening and treating syphilis in pregnant women, and early assessment and management of hearing loss in babies.

Source: GNA