Hearing impairment and hearing loss issues are not some immediately visible disabilities. Hearing loss occurs due to extreme noise pollution, which is on the rise in India. Five out of every 1000 newborns suffer from hearing loss problems and preventive measures have to be taken soon after birth if it has to be eradicated. (Read more).
Globally, around 360 million people, i.e., five percent of earth’s population, suffer from hearing loss and some 32 million of these are children. According to the World Health Organisation, in the young, hearing loss affects communication, cognition, behaviour, social-emotional development, academic outcomes, and later vocational opportunities. Sadly, a huge number of children, especially in developing countries like India, don’t have access to proper diagnosis and follow-up infrastructure and hence are condemned to a life of frustration and unrealised potential. (Read more)
The Organisation defines Hearing loss as
As sensory deficit that leads to being partially or completely unstable to hear sound in one or both ears. Delay in the identification and treatment of any native auditory impairment can profoundly affect quality of life in terms of linguistic exchange, social and emotional development, education and employment prospects.
If the precautionary measures and cure is delayed and the cause is not addressed in time, it may lead to delayed language development, academic under-achievement, social isolation, higher risk of injuries and low functioning, to name a few.
The main reasons for hearing loss in infants can be Prematurity, Chromosomal abnormality, Anoxia (Deficiency of Oxygen reaching the brain), Jaundice, and also hereditary problems. Various steps are being taken to avoid this problem in the newborns. Hospitals have been doing various detection programs for hearing loss for some time now. Pediatricians and Gynaecologists are also authorised and eligible to run these tests.
The new technologies:
Appropriate hearing aids are employed after a hearing trail and speech therapy is used to train them accordingly. If this works out, the patients go ahead with it until it is fixed. If not, a special type of plantation technique is employed which has two parts -
- Inside part which is by surgery and Cochlear implants are put inside the body.
- Outside part where sound processors with microphones are installed for 3-4 weeks through which patients undergo training for speech and sound, by which effective speech mechanism is developed.
90-95% hearing loss comes down to 20-25 decibels which is well under the optimum limit.
Hearing loss screening is mandatory in New South Wales, Australia and mothers are not discharged if this screening is not done. This is something that should come up in India and it is the only way to detect and prevent hearing loss issues in children as early as possible.