Hearing Works and Dis-Chem Wellness Clinics: New Hearing Screening Initiative
There are 466 million people in the world with disabling hearing loss. This is over 5% of the world’s population. The vast majority live in low- and middle-income countries like South Africa, where they often do not have access to appropriate ear and hearing care services.
Without suitable interventions, hearing loss poses a significant challenge in the lives of those affected. Many causes of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures. Through rehabilitation, education and empowerment, people with hearing loss can reach their full potential.
Raising awareness and improving access to services at the primary level can help to reduce the prevalence and adverse impact of hearing loss. Since hearing loss can affect anyone, of any age, it is so important that every member of society has access to knowing their hearing status.
This is why Hearing Works and Dis-Chem Wellness Clinics have joined forces!Together, our goal is to prevent hearing loss through public health actions which include the following strategies:
Strengthen maternal and child healthcare programs including immunization
Train healthcare professionals (clinic sisters) in hearing care and promote hearing screenings to any member of the public over 4 years of age
Raise awareness to promote hearing care and reduce stigma around hearing care and hearing loss.
Current Statistics On Hearing Loss
34 million children have disabling hearing loss
It is estimated that up to five out of every 1000 babies are born globally with hearing loss or acquire it soon after birth. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a child’s development and educational achievements. Early identification of such hearing loss followed by prompt and suitable interventions can help to ensure that children with deafness and hearing loss enjoy equal opportunities in society.
Chronic ear infections are a leading cause of hearing loss
Over 30% of hearing loss in children is caused by diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis and ear infections. It is estimated that up to 330 million people suffer with chronic ear infections or chronic otitis media globally. When left untreated, chronic ear infections lead to hearing loss and can cause life-threatening complications and mortality. Chronic ear infections are preventable and can be managed effectively through medical and surgical interventions.
Nearly 1 out of every 3 people over 65 years are affected by disabling hearing loss
Left untreated, hearing loss can lead to people being excluded from the most basic communication, thereby contributing to feelings of loneliness, frustration and social isolation. Hearing loss in the elderly is linked with early cognitive decline and dementia.
Age-related hearing loss can be managed effectively through a variety of means, including hearing aids.
Noise is a major avoidable cause of hearing loss
It is estimated that 1.1 billion people (aged between 12-35 years) are at risk of developing hearing loss due to noise exposure in recreational settings such as concerts and sporting events and through the use of personal audio devices. Regular exposure to loud sounds for prolonged periods poses a serious threat of irreversible hearing loss. This is largely preventable through raising awareness of risks, legislation and following safe listening practices.
Hearing loss can be caused by occupational noise and the use of ototoxic medications
In many places occupational noise, such as the loud sounds of machinery and explosions, has become the most compensated occupational hazard. Occupational noise can largely be prevented through improved awareness of the danger it poses and use of personal protective devices. Some commonly used medicines (such as aminoglycosides and certain anti-malarial medicines) can also lead to irreversible hearing loss. Ototoxicity can be prevented by raising awareness of its risks among health care providers and by the rational use of drugs.
People with hearing loss can benefit from devices such as hearing aids & cochlear implants
Current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of the global need, and in developing countries, this figure is less than 3%. It is estimated that there are 72 million people who could potentially benefit from the use of a hearing device.
How Does the Hearing Works and Dis-Chem Wellness Clinic Initiative Work?
Hearing Works in association with Dis-Chem now offers free hearing screenings to anyone visiting a Dis-Chem Wellness Clinic (at selected stores) as of June 2018.
Knowing your hearing status has never been easier, more convenient or this accessible! And the best part? It only takes 3 minutes!
The hearing screening is performed by a clinic sister on a mobile device and your results are automatically uploaded to a managed database. An audiologist will directly follow up with any referred/failed screening results, giving you the choice of visiting a variety of Audiologists in your vicinity for a full comprehensive hearing test. The hearing screening can be performed on anyone from 4 years of age.
The hearing screening is currently available by appointment in the following 5 Dis-Chem Wellness Clinics in Johannesburg:
BluBird Shopping Centre
Rivonia Medical Centre (Morningside)
Mall of Africa
This service will be extended by means of a national hearing screening campaign, offering the hearing screening at the majority of Dis-Chem Wellness Clinics nationwide.
Article by Tally Sherban
Love Your Hearing with Hearing Works