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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The deafening truth about mobiles

Mumbai: When 21-year-old Hiten, a Dadar resident, started complaining of a whistling sound in his right ear, he thought it was an infection. But ENT specialist Divya Prabhat shocked the youngster with his diagnosis: hearing loss. 

    "An audiogram revealed that he had significant hearing loss in his right ear, the one he favoured while talking on his phone," said the doctor. While the jury is still out on the connection between shiny new phones, personal listening devices and hearing loss, Dr Prabhat said he found no other reason for Hiten's galloping hearing loss. 
    During World Deafness Week, which this year has ironically coincided with Mumbai's favourite but noisy festival, Ganeshotsav, doctors and activists feel it is time to draw a connection between lifestyle and hearing loss. "Previously, I would get patients with complaints of tinnitus (ringing sound in the ears) in their 60s, but now I have patients in their twenties," said Dr Prabhat. 
    Overusing mobile phones, say doctors, is also associated with rising incidence of vestibular schwannoma (also referred to as acoustic neuroma or benign tumour growing on the nerve). "It is felt that the incidence of vestibular schwannoma would be 50% higher in mobile users than nonusers," said Dr Prabhat. 

A loud warning for youth 

Long hours on phone, listening to loud music affects hearing, say docs Today, youngsters hit by ear ailments for long associated with those in their 60s Listening to sounds over 80 decibels for four hours will damage ear, warns WHO Activists say noise pollution must be considered a health problem and awareness created 
We may turn into a nation of deaf people: Activist 
    Doctors say hearing problems affecting youngsters these days are due to their favourite habit—hanging on to their phones and music players at loud volumes for several hours a day. "Hearing loss depends on two factors—the decibel of sound and the duration for which one is exposed to it," said Prof Hetal Marfatia from KEM Hospital, Parel. "If one is listening to sounds over 80db for four hours, there will definitely be hearing loss." The World Health Organization has said that noise above 85db is damaging to human ears and a 3db rise above this reduces by half the time needed to cause damage. 
    But another doctor, Nishit Shah, said rapid hearing loss is only caused by viral 
i n f e c t i o n s . "Hearing loss o c c u r s o ve r years," he said, adding that the only exception would be instances of terror victims turning deaf on exposure to loud sound. 
    But Dr Marfatia said an angiogram would be a definite way of understanding if hearing loss is caused by noise pollution, be it exposure to sound in the environment or personal music players. 
    A study from Tel Aviv University has shown that youngsters who listened to over four hours of music on their MP3 players or iPods could be damaging their hearing. Dr Prabhat remembers a 38-year-old businessman from Surat who suffered complete hearing 

    loss in one of his ears due to mobile use. "He confessed he was on the phone from morning to evening. It definitely had a result," he said. 
    Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, which works on creating awareness about noise pollution, said, "The levels of noise we are exposed to could turn us into a nation of deaf people. It's high time noise pollution was considered a health problem and solutions worked out accordingly." 

    WARNING 
    SOUNDS 
A STUDY BY TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY HAS SHOWN THAT ONE IN FOUR TEENAGERS IS AT RISK OF EARLY HEARING LOSS AS A DIRECT RESULT OF LISTENING TO MUSIC ON PERSONAL LISTENING DEVICES (PLDS) LIKE MP3 PLAYERS AND IPODS 

DAMAGING DEVICES 
PLDs permit users to listen to crystalclear tunes at high volume for hours on end The study found that 21% of the participants were using PLDs from one to four hours and 8% for at least four hours Experts feel that the extent of slow hearing loss will only be felt in 10 or 20 years, by when it may be too late for an entire generation to do something about their hearing 

DECIBEL ALERT 
Worldwide, 16% of disabling hearing loss in adults is attributed to occupational noise, ranging from 7 to 21% in various sub-regions 
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most common form of acquired hearing loss after age-related loss 
NIHL is generally used to denote the cumulative, permanent loss of hearing that develops gradually after months or years of exposure to high levels of noise. It has long been recognized as a problem in occupations associated with prominent noise 
Studies have shown that people who are exposed to noise levels higher than 85 db suffer from NIH






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