Hearing Awareness Week: What is hearing loss? - Telethon Speech and Hearing

Hearing Awareness Week: What is hearing loss?

February 25 marks the start of Hearing Awareness Week, an important occasion and celebration for Telethon Speech & Hearing.

According to the World Health Organisation, over 466 million people live with disabling hearing loss. It is predicted that by 2050 nearly one in ten people will have hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be prevented and its impact reduced.

Here are some useful facts about the causes of hearing loss and what you can do to take care of your hearing.


What is hearing loss?
A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing is said to have hearing loss. It can vary in severity. A person with mild hearing loss may find it difficult to understand conversations in noisy places such as a restaurant. Someone with moderate hearing loss has difficulty understanding regular conversations unless voices are raised. Others who have severe hearing loss are unable to hear even very loud sounds close to their ears.


What causes hearing loss?

Among newborns:

  • Family history.
  • Infections suffered by the mother during pregnancy.
  • Premature birth.
  • Lack of oxygen at the time of birth.
  • Severe jaundice soon after birth.

Among children and adults:

  • Infections such as meningitis, measles, mumps or ear infections with discharge.
  • Use of certain medicines.
  • Injury to the hear or ear.
  • Exposure to loud sounds in any setting.
  • Listening through personal audio devices at unsafe levels.
  • Wax or foreign bodies blocking the ear canal.

Among older people:

  • Normal ageing process.
  • Exposure to loud sounds in any setting.
  • High blood pressue.
  • Diabetes.
  • Use of certain medicines.


What can you do to avoid hearing loss?

As an individual:

  • Do not insert any object into the ear.
  • Use earplugs and earmuffs in noisy places.
  • In case of any ear problems, consult a doctor immediately.
  • Check if medicines you take can affect your hearing.
  • Have your hearing tested regularly.
  • If advised to do so, use a hearing device as indicated.

As a child carer:

  • Do not insert anything into a child’s ear for any reason including to clean it.
  • Teach children never to insert anything into their ears.
  • Take your child to see a doctor in case the child complains of pain or blockage or has discharge coming from the ear.
  • Do not allow children to swim in dirty water.
  • Do not hit or slap a child.
  • Protect children’s ears from loud sounds.
  • Teach children to listen safely through personal audio devices.

As a community worker:

  • Learn about hearing loss and share information on ear and hearing care.
  • Know where ear care services are provided and guide people on how to access them.
  • Refer to a doctor people reporting with ear pain or discharge.
  • Learn about hearing devices and help people to use them properly.

As a teacher:

  • If a child is inattentive in class, it could indicate hearing loss; consider suggesting a hearing test.
  • Educate children on ear care and on the risks of inserting objects in the ear and of listening to loud sounds, including music.
  • Refer the child to a doctor immediately in case of discharge or pain in the ear.

Information provided by the World Health Organisation.