What would UAE residents miss if they suddenly lose their hearing?

What would UAE residents miss if they suddenly lose their hearing?

Dubai - About one-third of the population in the UAE has never had their hearing checked.

By Asma Ali Zain

Published: Mon 4 Mar 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Mar 2019, 9:39 PM

According to a recent survey, hearing 'I love you' from a family member is among the top three key life moments that UAE residents would miss if they suddenly lost their hearing one day.
On the World Hearing Day, which is marked on March 3 each year, MED-EL Medical Electronics, a provider of hearing solutions, announced results of a survey querying 500 adults in the UAE about their approach towards hearing loss issues, as part of an international study of 11,000 adults across the globe.
The three key life moments would not be the same if they could not hear - the top mention was 'hearing "I love you" from a family member (44 per cent), followed by 'hearing your favourite band/singer live' (42 per cent), 'your baby's first giggle' (40 per cent), 'your child's first words' (37 per cent) and 'praying, singing on religious festivities / mass' (35 per cent).
About one-third of the population in the UAE has never had their hearing checked, the survey showed. On a more positive note, approximately 53 per cent of those surveyed underwent a hearing screening over the past year. The survey was commissioned by MED-EL and conducted by Atomik Research from January 7 to 11.
When asked what were the most important things to get checked regularly by a medical professional, 33 per cent of respondents in the UAE stated blood pressure to be the top priority. This was followed by eyesight and teeth, and only six per cent highlighted the importance of ears and hearing checks. Interestingly, and despite the inattention to hearing health, those surveyed indicated concerns over the effects of hearing loss.
Overall, personal safety (23 per cent) and frustration at communication difficulties (22 per cent) were the most common, as well as social isolation (20 per cent), and feelings of inadequacy in everyday interactions (19 per cent).
Tamer Al Shahat, managing director, MED-EL Middle East, said:" Every year, March 3 is commemorated as the World Hearing Day by the World Health Organisation, with this year's theme drawing attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss, an issue that receives limited attention.
"Through this survey, we aim to accentuate the worth of hearing, and how it connects to broader concerns such as safety and social isolation, that inevitably impact the quality of life. I want to encourage everyone to get their hearing checked, and also to set hearing screening at least at an equal level to other regular health checks," he said.
Furthermore, the survey results reveal that two-thirds (62 per cent) of people believe the voices of family members to be the sound they will miss most if they were to lose their hearing, followed by children's voices (45 per cent). Other common sounds that respondents stated they would miss include falling rain, music and laughter.
Dr Muhammed Ayas, senior audiologist at the University Hospital Sharjah, said hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. "It can affect one ear or both ears and lead to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds. It is the third most common physical condition behind arthritis and heart disease, affecting people of all ages," he said.
While there are no published stats available for the UAE, there is an increasing prevalence of hearing loss in the country. 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. Those between the age of 60-69 years have the greatest amount of hearing loss.
Main causes of hearing loss
There are several factors that can lead to hearing loss including complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise and ageing. In addition, hearing loss can be due to age related changes, noise induced, or can also be congenital. "It is crucial to check your hearing on a regular basis with professionals," said Dr Muhammed Ayas, senior audiologist at the University Hospital Sharjah.
Also, if any individual experiences hearing difficulties, general screening tests are undertaken by the doctor to find out the actual cause. "At times, it may just be the earwax or inflammation from an infection. However, for severe conditions, tests as tuning fork tests, audiometer tests and app-based hearing tests are commonly referred to."
Dr Ayas also said that parents and care givers must always monitor the health of children. "Early identification of hearing loss is essential in early language development in children and eventually improves his or her overall cognitive skills. This is integral for improving the quality of life for children who suffer from hearing loss," he said.

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