Protect your hearing, protect your health

Sunday, May 06, 2018

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NOISE has consequences for our health, well-being, productivity, and the natural environment. It is an underrated menace that is gradually becoming an impending hazard to health — physically and psychologically — and affects the general well-being of individuals.

Too much noise impedes our daily activities at school, at work, at home, and during leisure time and can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects and reduce performance, among other things.

International Noise Awareness Day was celebrated on April 25, 2018. The Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD), in collaboration with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), staged the second annual symposium to mark International Noise Awareness Day at the Pollyanna Conference Room.

It was held under the theme 'Noise Implications — Issues and Solutions'.

According to a release from JAD, the day was used towards increasing public awareness of the issues of noise and finding solutions to them.

At the symposium Dr Michelle Harris, advisor, non-communicable Diseases and mentalhealth from PAHO, delivered the keynote address.

Dr Harris pointed out that 360 million people globally suffer from hearing loss. She said, however, that overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.

In the meantime, attorney-at-law Hugh Hyman, who presented on noise and Jamaican law, proposed that, in carrying out sound regulation law reform in Jamaica, it should be mandated that at venues where there is very loud, potentially hearing-damaging noise, there should be a sign warning that the sound level can be damaging.

Such a warning, the lawyer said, is required in some countries and is roughly analogous to the cigarette-smoking sign warning cigarette smokers about the health dangers of cigarette smoking.

He indicated, too, that too many individuals put their ears near heavy bass-thumping speaker boxes to the detriment of their hearing.

Hyman also emphasised the need for vigilant enforcement of what laws exist as it regards protection from noise. Among other things, he said he understood, for instance, that sleep deprivation due to intruding noise at nights can precipitate serious physiological and psychological issues for affected individuals.

He commented that under the Jamaican Constitution, Jamaicans have the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from environmental abuse and are entitled to respect for and protection of private and family life, inclusive of having a good night's sleep at home.

Meanwhile, executive director of JAD Kimberley Sherlock introduced a soft launch of the new campaign 'Protect Your Hearing - Protect Your Health' at the symposium.

The campaign is geared towards creating public awareness about the advantages of hearing health care and the consequences of untreated hearing loss.

Overall, it is imperative that individuals take their hearing health seriously. In the same way that people protect their sight and do check-ups for their eyes, and as may be necessary wear spectacles, people should protect and do check-ups on their hearing, and as required get any needed hearing devices to protect or assist them. Do this before it is too late, the release said.




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