Time to learn the SIGN language

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If the Punjab government does not execute the noise abatement measures and environment friendly policies on exigent basis to minimise noise pollution there is ample chance that about one million people Lahore would lose their hearing ability permanently in the coming years,” otolaryngologists have warned. “At early stages, people have to be very careful as they cannot judge if they are slowly losing their hearing ability.
They should occasionally consult concerned doctors if they find it difficult to understand speech under audible radius,” they said, adding that owing to high sound intensity of above 85 decibel (db) in major residential areas of the city, more than 80 percent of the population was exposed to harmful loud sound levels while seven to eight percent adults aging 20 to 50 have permanently damaged hearing.
According to standard guideline, the noise pollution should not exceed 55 decibel in residential areas but the available data reveals that the sound levels are 65 to 90 decibel in all the residential areas of the city. The reason behind this nasty noise pollution is lack of staffers at the Environment Protection Department. The police have also failed to control noise pollution and have lost impetus to execute policies for diminishing traffic noise.
“Besides exposure to loud noise, congenital disorders and infections like mumps, measles and meningitis and the use of substandard drugs also contribute to the damaging of the ears,” say Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Dr Irfan Mughal said the noise pollution was a major source of damaging the delicate cells of the inner ear and noise-induced hearing loss occurs gradually without any pain. He said a person experienced ringing in the ears known as tinnitus or difficulty in hearing and this temporary threshold shift could become permanent if preventive measures were not taken. He said noise pollution not only damage hearing but it could also be a cause of increase in blood pressure, digestive disturbances and a rise in heart beat and breathing. “In some cases, doctors find complaints of migraine headaches among patients due to noise pollution,” he said, adding that the biggest contributors to noise pollution in the city were pressure-horns used in buses, wagons, cars and even motorcycles.
A child specialist and Sir Ganga Ram
Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Masood Akhter Sheikh told Pakistan Today that children were easy victims of noise pollution. He said that children usually watched and listened music in higher volume and this could also cause hearing damage. “Furthermore, noisy environment can harm children when they find difficulty in concentrating their studies and that can naturally lead to long-term learning problems,” he said, adding that some antibiotics that had ototoxic elements could also cause hearing loss. He said youngsters also use headphones to listen music in high volume and this is also another cause of damaging hearing.
He said people could check their ability of hearing while using mobile phones as it was experienced by the lot of people that they could not pick the voice of other person while walking in noise places. He said there were many ways to check level of hearing ability and a few of them are that when one leaves a noisy place, he feels buzzing in the ears, difficulty to understand people and difficulty in understanding speech.
A psychiatrist Dr Ijaz Haider said noise pollution could create negative impacts on the psychology of human being. He said the most direct impact of noise pollution was on one’s mood as it created irritation and depression in people that could lead to disturbance of one’s sexual life and social interactions. He said sleeping time could also be disturbed by noise pollution and other recreational activities and some patients he observed started to prefer staying at home to avoid social functions such as marriage ceremonies owing of noise pollution. Muddassar Ali, a focal person of an NGO attached to environment related issues, said the EPD was not adequately trained to check noise pollution in different parts of the city and this situation aggravated when traffic police and EPD could execute noise abatement measures.