News / Health

WHO: Hearing Loss For Millions Can Be Prevented

A technician adjusts the controls on a hearing device (file photo).A technician adjusts the controls on a hearing device (file photo).
x
A technician adjusts the controls on a hearing device (file photo).
A technician adjusts the controls on a hearing device (file photo).
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports about half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented.  To mark International Ear Care Day, which falls on March 3, WHO says there is hope of improvement for many of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who suffer from hearing loss.
 
New global WHO estimates indicate more than 360 million people, or more than five percent of the world's population have disabling hearing loss. The report says more people face losing their hearing as they age. It notes one in three people over the age of 65 years - a total of 165 million people worldwide - is hard of hearing.
 
But this disability is not restricted to the old. Dr. Shelly Chadha of WHO’s Department of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, says around 32 million children under age 15 are affected by hearing loss.
 
“There are conditions which lead to this hard-of-hearing situation, including ear infections, which are very, very common in the low and middle-income countries, which often manifest [themselves] as a discharging ear…. Also, very importantly - noise, which is something which was traditionally limited to the occupational arena where people occupationally exposed were at risk of developing hearing loss. But, today, with environmental noise, with increasing technology - well, noise is a part of all our lives.” 
 
WHO reports disabling hearing loss is highest in South Asia, the Asia Pacific region and Sub-Saharan Africa. It can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors or certain complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
 
While infectious diseases, such as meningitis, measles and mumps also can cause the loss of hearing, most of these diseases can be prevented through vaccination.
 
Preventive measures 
 
WHO says about half of all cases of hearing impairment are easily preventable. It says many can be treated through early diagnosis and interventions such as surgically implanted hearing devices. 
 
Dr. Chadha says that unfortunately many people are discouraged from seeking help.

“The stigma attached to hearing loss and the use of hearing aids is one of the biggest challenges, one of the biggest barriers to providing services for hearing loss and improving access to hearing aids. Because even where we do try to improve access to hearing aids, very often people are resistant because they do not want to wear a hearing aid.” 
 
WHO says people with hearing loss who are not able to communicate with others often feel isolated and lonely. In developing countries, the organization says children with this disability rarely receive any schooling. It says adults who do not hear well have difficulty finding jobs what, in turn, negatively impacts the economy. 
 
WHO urges countries to develop programs for preventing hearing loss within their primary health care systems. It says other measures that can prevent people from losing their hearing include vaccinating children against measles, meningitis, mumps and rubella, as well as screening for and treating syphilis in pregnant women.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocidei
X
Elizabeth Lee
August 31, 2015 8:23 PM
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs