• Many of the causes that lead to hearing loss can be avoided through public health
    strategies and clinical interventions implemented across the life course.
  • Prevention of hearing loss is essential throughout the life course – from prenatal
    and perinatal periods to older age. In children, nearly 60% of hearing loss is due
    to avoidable causes that can be prevented through implementation of public
    health measures. Likewise, in adults, most common causes of hearing loss, such
    as exposure to loud noise and ototoxic chemicals, are preventable.
  • Effective strategies for reducing hearing loss at different stages of the life
    course include:
    – immunization;
    – good maternal and childcare practices;
    – genetic counselling;
    – identification and management of common ear conditions;
    – occupational hearing conservation programmes for noise and chemical exposure;
    – safe listening strategies for the reduction of exposure to loud sounds in
    recreational settings; and
    – rational use of medicines to prevent ototoxic hearing loss.
  • Common ear conditions, such as otitis media, can be treated medically and
    surgically; treatment lowers the rates of associated morbidity and mortality and
    can prevent or reverse the hearing loss attributed to such conditions.
  • Changes in the modifiable risk factors encountered across the life course can
    help to maintain the hearing trajectory as a person ages and influence the extent
    of hearing loss experienced in later life.
  • The adverse impacts of developing hearing loss or ear diseases at any stage
    during a person’s life course can be mitigated through early identification
    followed by prompt and appropriate interventions.
  • Early identification of hearing loss and ear diseases is key to effective management.
    Advancements in technology provide tools that can identify hearing loss at any
    age. To facilitate this process, it is important to implement programmes that target:
    – newborns and infants;
    – school-age children;
    – all those at greater risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise, ototoxic
    chemicals and ototoxic medicines; and
    – older adults.
  • Hearing assessment and ear examination can be conducted in clinical and
    community settings as well as field settings. Tools such as “hearWHO” and other
    technology-based solutions enable screening for ear diseases and hearing
    loss to be conducted in school and community settings with limited training
    and resources.
  • Once hearing loss is identified, it is essential that it is addressed as early as possible
    and in an appropriate manner to mitigate any adverse impact. Such early intervention
    strategies must adopt a person-centred approach, taking into account the individual’s
    communication needs and preferences, as well as available resources.
  • Measures available to rehabilitate people with hearing loss include:
    – the use of hearing technology through hearing aids, cochlear implants and
    middle ear implants;
    – the use of sign language and other means of sensory substitution, such as
    speech reading, use of print on palm or Tadoma, signed communication; and
    – rehabilitative therapy to enhance perceptive skills and develop communication
    and linguistic abilities.
  • The use of hearing assistive technology, and services such as frequency
    modulation and loop systems, alerting devices, telecommunication devices,
    captioning services and sign language interpretation, can further improve access
    to communication and education for people with hearing loss.
    The hearing trajectory of an individual across the life course is influenced by multiple
    factors, including public health strategies implemented at a population level, as described in
    Section 1. Section 2 outlines solutions for preventing hearing loss and ear diseases through
    a population-based approach and presents means for identifying and addressing these
    conditions in a timely and appropriate manner. Additionally, Section 2 focuses on public
    health strategies as well as technological advances that can enable prevention, identification,
    treatment and rehabilitation of hearing loss and related ear diseases.