Need hearing aids? Don’t buy them online!

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Dr. dr. Nyilo Purnami, Sp.THT-KL(K), FICS, FISCM
Dr. dr. Nyilo Purnami, Sp.THT-KL(K), FICS, FISCM. Photo: FK UNAIR

IO – WHO projects that 2.5 billion people will suffer from hearing problems by 2050, with one of every 10 humans requiring hearing rehabilitation by that time. They predict that more than 5% of the global population (432 million adults and 34 million children) will require hearing rehabilitation; nearly 80% of this number live in low-medium income countries. 

Neonatal hearing problems among children may affect them into adulthood. It may cause problems such as late linguistic, speech, and literacy development. Furthermore, the communication difficulties this causes might trigger frequent anger, depression, or a sense of isolation for the child. It will also affect their socializing skills, lower their self-confidence, impair academic achievement, and run a higher risk of injury because they don’t know what to watch out for. 

“Hearing problems because of noise exposure usually occur gradually and the sufferer frequently becomes aware of it quite late. However, even a single exposure to an extreme level of noise may damage the ears’ cells and destroy hearing. Therefore, regular hearing checks are extremely important,” said Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin in the online World Hearing Day commemoration held last Friday (04/03/2022). “Prevention and control of hearing and ear problems must be improved. We need to become more aware of hearing promotion efforts, as well as hearing damage prevention, cure, and rehabilitation efforts. Everyone needs to keep their ears healthy by implementing safe listening and routine ear checks, which will help early detection of hearing problems.” 

Musicians, construction workers, traffic police officers, and transportation workers (especially those who work in transport centers like couriers, warehouse staff, and harbor/airport/railway/bus station workers) are especially vulnerable to suffering from hearing problems because of constant exposure to high levels of noise. During the WHD 2022 Noise Webinar last Saturday (05/03/2022), drummer Gilang Ramadhan admitted that he suffers from tinnitus or constant ringing of the ears. 

“A couple of years back, I went Spartan and went on a series of tour in several towns without resting. That went real bad for my ears: my ear cilia died off. I endured various therapies, including acupuncture, to revive them. I have also been doing my best to make peace with this constant ringing,” he said. 

Maximum 60% Volume Please! 

Meanwhile, Dr. dr. Nyilo Purnami, Sp.THT-KL(K), FICS, FISCM, representative of the Nose, Ear, Throat, Head, and Neck Specialist Doctors’ Association (Perhimpunan Dokter Spesialis Telinga Hidung Tenggorok Bedah Kepala Leher – “PERHATI-KL”) from Faculty of Medicine Airlangga University explains how audiometric equipment is used to confirm a diagnosis of hearing problems caused by noise exposure. Patients generally complain of being hard of hearing, frequently or constantly hearing a high-pitched sound, and/or suffering from a ringing, whether in one ear or both. 

“A ‘light’ hearing problem is when the hearing threshold of sounds that one cannot hear through open air is 25-40 decibels. Difficulty or inability of hearing sounds up to 40-55 decibels in loudness means it’s a ‘medium’ hearing problem, up to 55-70 decibels is ‘medium-heavy’ hearing problem, up to 70-90 decibels is a ‘heavy’ hearing problem, while difficulty or inability of hearing sounds 90 decibels or louder is an ‘extremely heavy’ hearing problem – in other words, by this level you’ve gone deaf. Patients who suffer light problems generally only ask for words to be repeated during conversations, while those with heavy problems won’t be able to hear anything even if you shout right in their ear,” dr. Nyilo said. 

During the pandemic, we should limit the use of headsets and earphones to avoid having hearing problems in the future. “Choose a headset that fits the anatomy of your ears. Always restrict the volume to a maximum of 60% of full capacity. Lower is much better, actually. Use for a maximum of 60 minutes consecutively, then rest your ears at least 15 minutes after wearing. Don’t forget to check your hearing regularly, and make sure you clean up your ear from wax and check for infections,” she added. 

At the same event, Indonesia Audiologists’ Association (Perhimpunan Audiologis Indonesia – “Peraudi”) Chairwoman Christin A. Sitanggang declares that the use of hearing aids requires direct consultation with a certified, trained audiologist because each individual has distinct and characteristic hearing needs. “You will need professional help, because hearing aids require adjustments for longterm use. Therefore, I highly recommend that you don’t buy them online, or without prior consultation,” she said. (est)