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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 76  |  Page : 173--174

Joining hands with World Health Organization initiative Make Listening Safe

Saurabh R Shrivastava, Prateek S Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Joining hands with World Health Organization initiative Make Listening Safe.Noise Health 2015;17:173-174

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Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Joining hands with World Health Organization initiative Make Listening Safe. Noise Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 May 22 ];17:173-174
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Globally, almost 360 million individuals suffer from moderate to profound hearing loss due to various causes, with maximum prevalence in the regions of South Asia, Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa; almost half of these cases are avoidable. [1],[2] The recent estimates released by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that around 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at the risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss. [3] A wide range of long-term devastating aftermaths has been observed because of the hearing loss for the individuals, especially pertaining to their physical/mental health and education/occupation. [3],[4] Safe listening levels are established by assessing three factors, namely intensity (loudness), duration (length of time), and frequency (how often). [5]

Most of the noise induced hearing loss cases have been attributed to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, or because of exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues (viz. nightclubs, sporting events, etc.). [3] In fact, in the year 2011, in excess of 470 million smartphones were sold globally, which is another indirect indicator of growing potential risk (because of increased accessibility combined with their use at high volume and for longer durations). [5] Furthermore, it was revealed that almost 50% and 40% of teenagers and young adults (12-35 years old), from middle/high income nations are exposed to unsafe sound levels (viz. >85 decibels for 8 hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes) by personal audio devices and at entertainment venues respectively. [3]

Acknowledging the magnitude of the problem and its impact on the quality of life of people, it is high time that nations should join hands with WHO's Make Listening Safe initiative to reduce the incidence of hearing loss attributed to recreational noise. Multiple provisions have been proposed to tackle this emerging epidemic:

Individuals: People can minimize the risk of hearing loss by reducing the volume of personal audio devices; using audio devices for <1 hour/day; preferring noise-cancelling earphones; using ear plugs at noisy venues; reducing the duration of stay at noisy places; self-monitoring of sound levels; seeking medical attention on realizing the presence of any warning signs of hearing loss; and by adhering to the practice of periodic hearing checkups. [3],[5],[6],[7] Policy makers and other stakeholders: Even policy makers can play a defining role by formulating and enforcing strict legislation on recreational noise; creating awareness among the general population about the risks of hearing loss; involving different stakeholders (like parents, teachers, physicians, health workers, etc.) to educate young people about safe listening; manufacturers of personal audio devices should be motivated to display information about safe listening on products and packaging; conducting periodic training sessions for the health workers; instructing managers of entertainment venues to adhere to the safe noise levels/deploy sound limiters/provide earplugs to customers; and promoting research work in different settings to estimate the prevalence/etiology/impact of hearing loss. [3],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11]

In fact, to set an example, in one of the states of United States in 2014, an ordinance was passed to make it compulsory for bars and clubs to offer free earplugs to patrons. [5] Also, the Ear Science Institute of Australia initiated a campaign in school settings to educate and encourage healthy behaviors to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. [5] Internationally: International agencies can work in a coordinated manner with the global partners to reduce the magnitude of hearing loss; utilizing the opportunity of International Ear Care Day (annually observed by WHO on March 3), to draw attention to young people and their families about the risks of noise-induced hearing loss and ways to prevent it; ensuring that the governments of various countries acknowledge noise-induced hearing loss as a priority issue; supporting nations to develop and implement comprehensive programs for hearing care, and integrating the same with the primary health-care system; and by sharing findings of different studies to assist policy makers to effectively deal with the menace. [3],[11],[12],[13],[14]

To conclude, as noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible, the need of the hour is to involve the community, program managers, other stakeholders, and international agencies to effectively reduce the magnitude of the problem worldwide.


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