WHO World Hearing Day is held on 3rd March every year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world.
This year the theme is the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. It is a fact that many people live with unidentified hearing loss, unaware that they are missing out on certain sounds and words.
The WHO’s key messages are that:
- Everybody should check their hearing regularly, especially those who are at a higher risk of hearing loss.
- Services for early identification and intervention should be made available throughout the health system.
- To address this issue, on 3rd March WHO will launch a free app, hearWHO, that allows people to perform a basic test on their hearing. Although simple, the WHO app is based on validated digits-in-noise technology. This app allows the general public to check their hearing status and monitor it over time, clearly displaying users’ results in a personalized record of hearing status.
The HearWHO app will help:
- Raise awareness of the importance of hearing.
- Encourage people to monitor their hearing regularly and practice safe listening.
- Allow community health workers to check the hearing status of patients.
Plextek Strongly Supports WHO World Hearing Day
Plextek has a long-standing interest in detection and diagnosis of all forms of hearing loss, and in particular Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and tinnitus.
Innovative technology under development by the company could soon have a far reaching impact on the early diagnosis and treatment of a variety of debilitating hearing disorders. Existing systems used to detect hearing disorders are currently restricted for use within clinical environments and are therefore only used during intermittent health checks or when patients are already experiencing advanced symptoms.
Plextek’s technology works by accurately monitoring subtle changes to ‘Auditory Evoked Potentials’ (AEP) – a signal sent from the brain by an acoustical stimulus that measures an individual’s auditory ability level. It has been demonstrated to reliably detect the early signs of tinnitus – well before a person would become aware of the symptoms.
Integration of Plextek’s solution into commonly used consumer headphones removes the clinical barrier and can play a game-changing preventative role, particularly benefitting those within high-risk environments such as loud noise environments, the military or music venues. By syncing with a smartphone app the technology could also be used to alert the wearer to a potential problem and encourage them to seek out early medical help or take preventative action.
Key Facts about Hearing Loss
- Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and it is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.
- Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, chronic ear infections or infectious disease, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.
- 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to excessive noise in recreational settings.
- Unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$ 750 billion, while interventions to prevent, identify and address hearing loss are highly cost-effective.
- People with potential hearing loss benefit from early identification and diagnosis.