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‘More youngsters suffering from hearing loss’

Dr Ashwini Kumar Mehta, consultant ENT specialist, Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri, says he is seeing more cases of hearing loss among young people

mumbai Updated: Mar 29, 2016 00:08 IST
Aayushi Pratap

Dr Ashwini Kumar Mehta, consultant ENT specialist, Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri, says he is seeing more cases of hearing loss among young people. Unlike hearing loss in older people, which is a result of ageing, the youth suffer from a loss of hearing owing to constant exposure to loud noise.

Have you noticed a shift in the average age of people who suffer from hearing loss?

Yes, the average age of people who suffer from hearing loss has definitely shifted. Earlier, hearing loss symptoms were observed in older people who are otherwise healthy. However, now we see even younger people suffering from hearing loss. This could be attributed to constant exposure to loud sounds. Hearing loss can be caused by two types of noises – prolonged continuous noise (like traffic or constant loud music) or impulse noise (like blasts or gunfire).

What are the early symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss? Is there a test to determine this?

A buzzing or ringing sound, irritability, difficulty in sleeping and sometimes even learning disability and speech impairment are some of the early symptoms. Anyone who suspects they might be suffering from noise-induced hearing loss can perform a simple audiogram test, which can help determine if there is hearing loss and to what extent.

How aware are people about noise-induced hearing loss in the city?

Mumbaiites are not very aware. In fact, people who have hearing loss are not even aware of their condition, until the symptoms become very severe. There are various instances in everyday life where people are exposed to high-intensity sounds, without them even realising it. For example, the sound level inside a bus is close to 80db and the intensity of a loud horn is 110db, whereas the acceptable level of sound is only 60db.

Can you recommend some measures that people can take to prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

Firstly, people working in high-noise areas such as airports, factories and busy roads should work in rotation or shifts. Secondly, a periodic check-up with a doctor can help diagnose hearing loss at the initial stage. Lastly, people must wear ear-protecting devices such as ear plugs.