Hearing loss rises by 30 per cent in 5 years

Hearing loss rises by 30 per cent in 5 years

Doctors cite various urban reasons to increased hearing impairment in the city.

With indiscriminate honking, Bengaluru traffic adds to the hearing problem.

City medical experts observe that there is a steady growth in cases of hearing loss among Bengalureans. Blaring horns, excessive partying at pubs with loud music and over usage of earphones are being cited as the main reasons. 

Dr Prateek Nayak, consultant - ENT, Aster CMI Hospital says that detection and awareness has led to more hearing loss cases. 

“Annual health checkups are making it easier to spot hearing loss cases now. There is a 30 per cent increase in hearing loss incidents in the last five years. There is also a 15 per cent increase in cases among 40 to 50-year-olds,” he says.

Stress has indirectly become a reason for hearing loss as most people want to unwind and party late night at pubs. “Many others like to be plugged into music all the time to relax themselves. Earphones put a lot of pressure on ears,” he adds. 

He notes that radiation from mobile phones also aggravates hearing issues.

Dr Santhosh S, consultant - ENT, Columbia Asia Hospital also agrees that there has been a steady increase.

“With increased traffic, noise pollution, call-centre jobs, increasingly teenagers to 30-year-olds are ailing from hearing loss now. Stress caused due to sleep disturbances can lead to viral infections that in turn leads to one-sided hearing loss. When this is not detected on time, it can lead to permanent hearing loss,” he adds. 

Sensorineural hearing loss can often lead to serious damage, says Dr Satish Nathan, consultant-ENT and head and neck surgeon, Narayana
Multispeciality Hospital.

“This is caused due to the weakening of the nerves. Stress due to vehicular and environmental noise triggers or worsens the situation,” he points out. 

The fragile hair cells in the inner ear rely on a steady stream of blood to receive sufficient oxygen and other nutrients, and stress disturbs blood circulation throughout the body, which can affect hearing. “Hearing loss is a growing concern. Around 15 per cent of the cases I see are of the working class, who are exposed to high stress,” he shares.

Dr Jagdish Chaturvedi, ENT consultant, Fortis Hospital, who holds mobile screening camps regularly, says there is a two-fold increase in hearing loss cases. He adds that stress can aggravate hearing impairment and delay the healing process.

“Excessive usage of earphones, and excessive alcohol and substance abuse, reducing core multivitamins in the body that are important for nerves, are making youngsters more susceptible to hearing loss,” he says.

Sociocusis (condition of those who have hearing loss attributed to continuous noise exposures, unrelated to their job or occupation) is a major reason, explains Dr Satish Nair, consultant otolaryngologist, Apollo Hospitals. 

“Noise is sinister; it can affect one without them knowing it. While a person is ideally exposed to a maximum of 60 decibels at home, they are exposed to 110 decibels or more for 3 to 4 hours at a pub. This can massively affect one’s hearing; a rupture in the ear can happen,” he says.   

He further adds that the government should implement laws which control the noise levels in the city, including construction and other work to five days a week. 

Mid-Oct to Jan end see hike in cases

“We see a lot of patients with hearing loss and issues right during Deepavali season. The holiday adds on to this with all the partying and loud noises around. Winter is the season when cases of flu and infections are on a high. The most number of cases are observed during mid-October to end of January in Bengaluru.”

- Dr Prateek Nayak, consultant - ENT, Aster CMI Hospital

Steps for healthy hearing

- A well-balanced diet is important for overall health. 

- Meditation/yoga can help detox from loud sounds. 

- Avoid loud noisy places as much as possible. 

- Avoid earphones and use speakerphones while listening to music.

- Take a 10-minute break while listening to music.