Although largely preventable, by 2050 nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss and at least 700 million will require hearing rehabilitation
Abu Dhabi, 02 March 2022: On World Hearing Day, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE's largest healthcare network, is urging people of all ages to keep track of their hearing and attend regular screenings. As the leading provider of preventive and curative hearing services, SEHA is marking the day with several initiatives to encourage people of all ages to not take their hearing ability for granted and instead, take proactive steps that will protect its loss.
This year's global theme ‘To hear for life, listen with care' brings to light the fact that one in two young people are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds. Frequent exposure to high decibels could cause irreversible damage to the sensory cells in a person's ears, resulting in noise-induced hearing loss or ringing in the ear (tinnitus). Given the permanent nature of the damage, only hearing devices and rehabilitation services can then be of help. The risk for permanent hearing loss is higher for people working in noisy areas, or those who regularly listen to music through overhead or earphones, and who frequently visit places with amplified music such as clubs and concerts.
However, experts at SEHA are keen to stress to the public that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, provided steps are taken early on. Speaking about this, Dr. Zafeer Ahmed, Acting ENT Chair of Department and ENT Specialist at Ambulatory Healthcare Services said: “Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent but largely preventable. It's simply a matter of adopting safe-listening practices - set the volume to 60% of maximum and use well-fitted noise-cancelling headphones, wear ear plugs in noisy areas, don't sit too close to the source of the sound, seek out a quiet nook from time to time, leverage the use of sound exposure monitoring apps, and purchase devices with built-in safe listening features. It is important that people pay heed to warning signs and get regularly screened. There are several self-check apps, such as hearWHO which are convenient. If you notice some signs or fail the self-check, its best to book an appointment with your family physician or an ENT specialist at SEHA. In addition, we believe that every newborn should undergo examination and screening for hearing allowing for early intervention and improving outcomes”
SEHA provides comprehensive curative and preventative services from birth to old age to protect hearing. SEHA's Ambulatory Health Services (AHS) and Al Dhafra hospitals provide pediatric and adult screening and treatment programs and services. This includes the ‘Well Child' screening program and the ‘DOH Comprehensive' screening program for Thiqa holders over 65 years.
SEHA's ENT and audiology clinics at AHS and Al Dhafra hospitals provide patients with comprehensive care including prescription and follow up of hearing aids, tailored care for people of determination, referral to speech therapy, availability of several hearing tests (including pressure hearing tests) and diagnostic services catering to poor hearing, speech delay, and ear ringing. Additionally, SEHA also provide occupational health screening for people who work in loud environments while Corniche Hospital provides advanced neonatology services, enabling us to provide an unparalleled quality of care for newborns, including a comprehensive screening program.”
To further support the community on the occasion of World Hearing Day, AHS has launched a wide range of educational activities, including webinars to educate the community about the effects of loud noise, particularly from video games, on hearing, as well as a special awareness session for shooters at Al Ain Shooting Club to educate them on how to protect their ears, as a single blast can cause lasting hearing loss and tinnitus. AHS is also running its annual campaign to distribute free hearing aids for select patients in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain who are unable to afford them, in partnership with Touch of Health, a leading supplier of hearing aids in the UAE.s
Common signs and symptoms of hearing loss include - muffling of speech and other sounds, difficulty understanding words, trouble hearing consonants, frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly, needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio, withdrawal from conversations, and avoidance of some social settings. If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, kindly book an appointment with your family physician or an ENT specialist at SEHA at the earliest.