“One would expect hearing loss to set in after 45 years of age, but nowadays we get people in their early thirties with hearing loss,” said Dr Neelam Sathe from the ENT department of civic-run KEM Hospital, Parel.
Presbycusis is hearing loss that occurs with aging. World medical literature says about 30-35% of adults aged 65-75 years have hearing loss. “Of late, people are coming with presbycusis in their fifties. While no one reason can be attributed for this, it could be due to better awareness and/or worsening noise pollution,” said Dr Samir Bhargava, who with the BMCrun Cooper Hospital, Juhu.
Dr Hetal Marfatia-Patel, who heads the ENT department of KEM Hospital, Parel, said, “Hearing impairment doesn’t come with alarming pain. In fact, people rarely notice one-sided loss. There are subtle signs like holding the phone to one ear, talking less or getting depressed.” She also pointed out to patterns of viral infections affecting a patient’s hearing. “Some fevers last for days and could affect hearing. Some medicines, especially multi-drug resistant TB, are known to cause hearing loss as a side-effect. People suffer hearing loss also because of cancer treatment,” Dr Marfatia-Patel added.
As part of the International Week of the Deaf, the Mumbai branch of the Association of Otolaryngologists of India will offer free hearing checks. “It is believed 83 out of 1,000 children have hearing loss that affects their education. Yet, not enough come for treatment,” said Dr Marfatia-Patel, whose KEM team has done 250 cochlear or bionic ear implants.