Doha, 24 Feb 2021: Causes of hearing loss and deafness, prevention, screening and diagnosis, and management will be the highlights of a series of events marking World Hearing Day organized this week by Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Audiology and Balance Department under the theme: “Hearing care for All! Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate”.
Activities marking the day included a virtual World Hearing Day seminar attended by around 300 participants and awareness campaigns organized across Hamad General Hospital, Al Wakra Hospital, Al Khor Hospital, Women’s Wellness and Research Center and Ambulatory Care Center.
The World Hearing Day, which falls on every 3 March, raises awareness of hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis to prevent complications as well as support for people living with hearing loss. This year’s event coincides with the launch of the World Report on Hearing, presenting a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.
According to the WHO’s statistics, around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and 34 million of these are children. It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.
“The causes of hearing loss and deafness can be congenital or acquired,” notes Audio-Vestibular Medicine Consultant and Head of Audiology and Balance Department, Dr. Khalid Abdul Hadi. He explains further that congenital causes may lead to hearing loss being present at or acquired soon after birth. “Hearing loss can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors or by certain complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including maternal rubella, syphilis or certain other infections during pregnancy,” he says.
Acquired causes which may lead to hearing loss at any age, according to him include infectious diseases such as meningitis, measles and mumps; chronic ear infections; collection of fluid in the ear (otitis media); and use of certain medicines, such as those used in the treatment of neonatal infections, malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and cancers. Dr. Abdul Hadi notes that among children, chronic otitis media is a common cause of hearing loss.
“In addition, other acquired causes can be injury to the head or ear; excessive noise, including occupational noise such as that from machinery and explosions; recreational exposure to loud sounds such as that from use of personal audio devices at high volumes and for prolonged periods of time and regular attendance at concerts, nightclubs, bars and sporting events; ageing, in particular due to degeneration of sensory cells; and wax or foreign bodies blocking the ear canal,” he highlights.
“Good hearing and communication are important at all stages of life. Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be avoided through preventative actions such as protection against loud sounds; good ear care practices and immunization,” notes Dr. Abdul Hadi.
He says hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be addressed when it is identified in a timely manner and appropriate care is sought. “People at risk of hearing loss should check their hearing regularly. They should seek care from a health care provider because their timely action is important in addressing the current notable increase in the number of people living with hearing loss and ear diseases across the world,” he says.
According to him, in Qatar over 28,000 patients are screened for hearing loss yearly while a total of 7209 and 303 patients have been fitted with hearing aids and cochlear implants respectively. “The services that we offer those living with hearing loss (especially children) at HMC’s Audiology Department are unrivalled in the region and are also on par with leading international centers. We have high quality equipment and well qualified staff providing top notch care to all our patients both as new and follow-up cases,” Dr. Abdul Hadi adds.