By Chioma Obinna
Worried about the rising incidence of people at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe use of portable music devices, the International Hearing Centre Nigeria Ltd, has called for urgent measures to address the malady.
The Chief Executive Officer, International Hearing Centre, Nigeria, Dr. Irene Okeke-Igbokwe who quoted the World Health Organisation, WHO, remarked that, “1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices.
Speaking on the October 2021 National Audiology Awareness Month, she noted that smart phones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, were major contributors to the malady
“Data from studies in middle – and high-income countries analysed by WHO indicate that among teenagers and young adults aged 12-35 years, nearly 50 per cent are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices and around 40 per cent are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues.
“Unsafe levels of sounds can be, for example, exposure to in excess of 85 decibles (dB) for eight hours or 100dB for 15 minutes.”
She expressed fear that more persons may ay be on the increase if proper awareness is not created immediately.
“Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk.
“We live in a very noisy world, and the statistics surrounding hearing loss are actually quite shocking. Sadly, studies show that a majority of people with hearing loss wait to seek treatment after noticing the issue for up to 7-10 years. By that time, hearing generally worsens dramatically”.
The renowned audiologist urged Nigerians to take the opportunity offered by IHC to get their hearing checked and encourage those around them to do the same.
Okeke-Igbokwe who is a former Director of Nigerian Army Audiological Centre warned that a single exposure to excessive noise can cause permanent hearing loss.
She therefore urged Nigerians to utilise the opportunity of the free hearing screening being offered by IHC in its centers in Abuja, Enugu, Ikoyi, Port-Harcourt and Yaba to assess their hearing status and obtain the necessary correctional fittings where necessary, while also noting that the free hearing screening will last the whole of the month of October.
Counseling on prevention of hearing loss and hearing conservation tips are to be provided alonside free hearing health checks across the five centres nationwide.
Established in 2008, the National Audiology Awareness Month was created by the American Academy of Audiology, AAA, to bring awareness to hearing health and the importance of protecting people’s ability to hear.