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The annual World Health Day draws attention to a specific health topic of concern. 7th April marks the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. The theme for World Health Day 2022 is ‘Our Planet, Our Health’ – learn more about this year’s campaign here

In 2021, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Report on Hearing was launched. The report includes important data about the global rates of hearing loss and provides strong evidence to make ‘Hearing Care for All’ a health priority.

The WHO Report warns that:
• By 2050, almost 2.5 billion people will experience some hearing loss
• At least 700 million people will require hearing rehabilitation
• Over 1 billion young people are risking hearing loss because of unsafe listening practices (loud music etc.)
• An annual investment of US$1.40 per person is needed to improve worldwide hearing care services

At present, around 5% of the world’s population (430 million people) need help to support them with their hearing loss. By 2050, it’s estimated that 700 million people (1 in 10) will be living with ‘disabling’ hearing loss (greater than 35 decibels in their better hearing ear).

Almost 80% of people who are currently experiencing ‘disabling’ hearing loss live in low and middle-income countries. This type of hearing loss also increases with age – those aged over 60 are 25% more likely to be affected by ‘disabling’ hearing loss.

According to the WHO Report, what are the causes of hearing loss and deafness?

• Genetics (hereditary and non-hereditary hearing loss)
• Intrauterine infection (rubella or cytomegalovirus infection)
• A lack of oxygen at birth
• Low-birth weight
• Chronic ear infections
• Fluid in the ear
• Meningitis and other infections
• Chronic diseases
• Smoking
• Otosclerosis
• Age-related sensorineural degeneration
• Impacted ear wax)
• Ear or head injury
• Loud noise
• Nutritional deficiencies

What do those WHO Report list as the main impacts of unaddressed hearing loss?

• Affects communication, speech & understanding
• Higher unemployment rate
• Lower education rate (especially in poorer countries)
• Social isolation
• Annual global cost of US$ 980 billion for health sector, educational support & loss of productivity

How does the WHO Report say that hearing loss could be prevented?

• Immunisation programmes against diseases which can lead to hearing loss
• Good childcare practices
• Genetic counselling
• Management of common ear conditions
• Occupational health for noise and chemical exposure at work
• Safe listening strategies for loud sounds (listening to music at concerts or through headphones)
• Medicines to prevent ototoxic hearing loss

If hearing loss and ear diseases are diagnosed early, effective health care will be critical to managing the condition. Screening for babies, children, people exposed to loud noise and older adults is vital for monitoring hearing health – either in a community or clinical setting. Once hearing loss has been identified, it’s vital that the issues are addressed quickly to avoid any negative impact.

The WHO Report highlights these tools as essential for addressing hearing loss:

• Hearing devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants and middle ear implants
• Sign language and other communication methods to help develop language skills
• Hearing assistive technology such as frequency modulation, loop systems, alerting devices, telecommunication apps, captioning/subtitling services and sign language interpretation

You can download the WHO World Report on Hearing 2021 here

To find out how we can help identify or support you with your hearing loss, please give us a call on 01223 661 399 or book online for a consultation.