Over one billion people, including Nigerians and other nationals across the globe, aged 12 to 35, risk losing their hearing due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud music and other high volume recreational noise, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
WHO gave the warning in a new international safety advice on Wednesday to tackle the rising threat of hearing loss.
The new international standard for safe listening at venues and events was launched ahead of World Hearing Day, marked on March 3.
Over 1.5 billion people globally live with hearing loss, and according to recent estimates this number could rise to over 2.5 billion by 2030. WHO estimated that 50 per cent of hearing loss could be prevented through public health measures.
According to the UN health agency, many common causes of hearing loss can be prevented, including over-exposure to high volume sounds.
“Millions of teenagers and young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging sound levels at venues such as nightclubs, bars, concerts and sporting events,” Bente Mikkelsen, WHO director for the Department for Noncommunicable Diseases, said.
“The risk is intensified as most audio devices, venues and events do not provide safe listening options and contribute to the risk of hearing loss,” she added.
The new WHO standard aims to better safeguard young people as they enjoy their leisure activities.
The global standard for safe listening at venues and events, highlights six recommendations for implementation to ensure that venues and events limit the risk of hearing loss to their patrons, while still preserving high-quality sound and an enjoyable listening experience.
The new standard was developed under WHO’s Make Listening Safe initiative, launched in 2015, and seeks to improve listening practices especially among young people.
WHO alerted that hearing loss due to loud sounds is permanent, underlining that exposure to loud sounds causes temporary hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing sound interference in the ears), and prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to permanent hearing damage, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.
Calling for the new global standard to be supported, WHO encouraged governments to develop and enforce legislation for safe listening and raise awareness of the risks of hearing loss.
The UN agency also advised that behaviour change can be motivated by civil society organisations, parents, teachers, and physicians, who can educate young people to practise safe listening habits.
“Governments, civil society and private sector entities such as manufacturers of personal audio devices, sound systems, and video gaming equipment as well as owners and managers of entertainment venues and events have an important role to play in advocating for the new global standard,” Ren Minghui, WHO assistant director-general, said.
He added, “We must work together to promote safe listening practices, especially among young people.”
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Miniaturized Ultrasound Scanner Could Help Detect Breast Cancer Earlier
A wearable ultrasound scanner that could help detect breast cancer earlier – and thus improve survival rates – has been developed by a research team headed up at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women, with around 2.3 million new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2020. When caught in its early stages, the survival rate is nearly 100%, but this drops to 25% among patients whose tumours are detected at a late stage. Regular self-checks and mammograms can help secure positive outcomes.
However, in the UK, an estimated 39% of women do not regularly check their breasts for the signs of cancer – which can include shape changes, lumps or swelling.
On the screening front, notes surgical oncologist Tolga Ozmen of the Massachusetts General Hospital, “One of the main obstacles in imaging and early detection is the commute that people have to make to an imaging centre.” Yet even when people do undergo regular mammograms, breast tumours can still sneak up between screenings. These “interval cancers” make up 20–30% of all breast cancer cases, and their tumours tend to be more aggressive than those found during routine scans.
Galvanized by the death of her aunt – who was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer at 49, despite regular check-ups – MIT engineer Canan Dagdeviren set about designing an easy-to-use device that could enable more frequent and even at-home screening.
“My goal is to target the people who are most likely to develop interval cancer,” explains Dagdeviren. “With more frequent screening, our goal is to increase the survival rate to up to 98%.”
To realize this vision, Dagdeviren, Ozmen and colleagues developed a miniaturized ultrasound scanner using a novel piezoelectric material fashioned into a phased array. The scanner fits inside a small tracker that’s inserted into a flexible, 3D-printed patch with a honeycomb-like pattern. The tracker can be moved along a path in the patch to provide imaging from six different positions, together affording coverage of the entire breast.
The whole set-up is worn by attaching the patch, via magnets, to a special bra containing openings where the scanner can contact the skin. The researchers note that the device, which they describe in Science Advances, does not require any special expertise to operate.
“We changed the form factor of the ultrasound technology so that it can be used in your home. It’s portable and easy to use, and provides real-time, user-friendly monitoring of breast tissue,” Dagdeviren explains.
To demonstrate the scanner’s potential, the team tested it on a 71-year-old patient with a known history of breast cysts. The wearable enabled the researchers to detect the cysts, which were as small as 3 mm in diameter, the same scale as early-stage tumours. Furthermore, the researchers report, the device achieved a resolution comparable to that of traditional ultrasound systems used in medical imaging centres and could image tissue to a depth of 8 cm.
At present, the scanner has to be connected to a traditional imaging system for its data to be visualized. However, the researchers are developing a miniaturized version – about the size of a smartphone – to add to their scanner. Other developments being planned include the integration of artificial intelligence-powered diagnostics and adaptation of the ultrasound technology for use on other parts of the body.
Sheng Xu – a materials scientist from the University of California San Diego who was not involved in the present study, but is also working on conformable ultrasound patch designs – called the device “impressive”. He adds: “The tracker in the bra could help standardize the ultrasound imaging procedure and minimize operator dependency, which plagues conventional ultrasound technology.”
Researchers demonstrate the positioning of the wearable BraCoil
Wearable coil vest could change the game in breast MRI
“This would be of great benefit to individuals and health services alike,” agrees biophysicist Jeff Bamber of the Institute of Cancer Research, who says that in the UK, pressure on imaging services in hospitals has helped generate waiting lists that are millions of patients long. Bamber notes that the low profile needed for wearables makes it difficult to build ultrasound transducer arrays without compromising on image quality.
He adds: “This group has incorporated single crystal piezoelectric array technology with advanced doping of the crystal, as used in modern conventional ultrasound probes. The result is good electromechanical coupling, good sensitivity and wide bandwidth, enabling them to achieve relatively good image quality to practically useful imaging depths.”
“With further development to produce images of diagnostic quality, the potential for use in home monitoring would be considerable,” Bamber tells Physics World.
. Physics World
Israeli Doctors Reattach Boy’s Decapotated Head
Israeli doctors have performed a miraculous feat of reattaching a boy’s head after he suffered internal decapitation in a road accident.
According to The Times of Israel, a 12-year-old Palestinian named Suleiman Hassan, suffered a serious injury in which his skull got detached from the top vertebrae of his spine- officially known as a bilateral atlanto occipital joint dislocation.
Hassan was riding his bike when he was hit by a car. He was brought to Hadassah Medical Center and was immediately operated upon via surgery in the trauma unit.
Dr. Ohad Einav, an orthopedic specialist led the operation which took several hours. He informed that the doctors used “new plates and fixations in the damaged area.”
“Our ability to save the child was thanks to our knowledge and the most innovative technology in the operating room,” said Einav as quoted by New York Post.
As per the doctors, Hassan’s head was “almost completely detached from the base of his neck” in what is known as an internal decapitation. The operation actually happened in June but doctors revealed about it only now.
Meanwhile, Hassan was discharged with a cervical splint and doctors will continue to monitor his recovery.
“The fact that such a child has no neurological deficits or sensory or motor dysfunction and that he is functioning normally and walking without an aid after such a long process is no small thing,” said Einav.
“This is not a common surgery at all, and especially not on children and teens. A surgeon needs knowledge and experience to do this,” he explained.
Israel’s TPS news agency quoted Hassan’s father as thanking the doctors: “Bless you all. Thanks to you, he regained his life even when the odds were low and the danger was obvious.”
“What saved him were professionalism, technology and quick decision-making by the trauma and orthopedics team,” said the father.
Dangers Of Consuming Carbide-ripened Fruits – NAFDAC
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has listed the dangers of consuming fruits ripened by chemicals such as carbide.
According to the Director-General of The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye the consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide may cause damage to the heart, kidney and liver.
Adeyeye also said fruits ripened with calcium carbide have the tendency to cause cancer, frequent thirst, irritation in the mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcer.
The NAFDAC boss spoke on Tuesday at the official take-off of the agency’s media sensitisation workshop on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbides.
She said the ripening of fruits with carbide is a public challenge and the agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.
“Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits. Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.
“However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc, or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health.
“Fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin, but the inside remains unripe. You can identify such artificially ripened fruits if you notice that the fruits are all yellow whereas the stem is dark, this is true, especially with bananas and plantains.
“In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly,” she said.
Adeyeye noted that the artificial ripening of fruit quality leads to a large loss of properties such as colour, taste and feel, and such practice does not give the natural aroma and flavour to the fruits.
“These fruits do not possess uniform colour and are less juicy than when ripened naturally and have a comparatively shorter shelf life. Calcium Carbide when sprayed with water reacts chemically to produce acetylene, which acts like ethylene and ripens fruits by a similar process,” she said.
“Calcium carbide generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus and others that pose several very serious health hazards. Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure. They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in the mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so forth. Higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in the lungs.
“Acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia. The impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids, sleepiness, seizure, and others.”
She continued the clarifications by saying that calcium carbide is alkaline in nature and erodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region and disrupts intestinal functions.
“Consuming such artificially ripened fruits could result in sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, kidney problems and possibly even cancer. Other symptoms of poisoning include diarrhoea, burning or tingling sensation in abdomen and chest difficulty in swallowing, irritation in eyes, and skin, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, and numbness”, she reiterated.
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