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The Effect of Noise on Hearing

How noisy jobs can damage your hearing; A novel project to prevent alarm fatigue in hospitals; Could transplanting more organs from cancer patients help solve organ shortages?

One in 20 people in the world have a disabling hearing loss. Sometimes it is caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, perhaps at work or listening to music on headphones, or a single loud noise such as a gunshot can cause permanent damage to the inner ear. The good news is that there are drugs to treat noise-induced hearing loss on the horizon, but for now, prevention is key. Health Check speaks to Dr Mathias Basner from the University Of Pennsylvania Perelman School Of Medicine, whose recent paper in the Lancet reviewed the effects of noise on health.

Silencing Hospital Alarms
Alarms are put into hospital equipment to monitor patients’ conditions and make sure they are kept safe, but research has shown that the sheer number of them has meant that staff are developing 'alarm fatigue’ and it is actually putting patients at risk. One hospital in Boston, USA, has found a way to drastically reduce the number of alarms. The BBC’s Ashley Semler reports.

Higher Risk Organ Transplants
With a global shortage of organs for donation, doctors are looking for ways to increase the numbers of people who can donate. Usually most people who have died from infectious diseases or cancer are considered too high risk and there is also a tendency to avoid organs from older donors too. In the UK new advice has been published recommending that a wider variety of donors are considered. And new research just published in the British Journal of Surgery has looked at what happens when organs are taken from older patients and from those with cancer. The latter study found that some donors with cancer defined as an unacceptable or high risk can be used safely. Senior author James Neuberger is professor of medicine at Birmingham University and the associate medical director of NHS Blood and Transplant in the UK.

(Picture: Children protecting their ears from noise in Hong Kong. Credit: Mike Clarke, AFP/Getty Images)

Available now

29 minutes


  • Noise-induced hearing loss

    How exposure to loud noises can cause damage to our ears

    Duration: 11:12

  • Silencing hospital alarms

    A novel project to prevent ‘alarm fatigue’

    Duration: 06:51

  • Using transplant organs from cancer patients

    Why the risk of transmitting cancer can be overestimated

    Duration: 07:42


  • Wed 14 May 2014 18:32GMT
  • Thu 15 May 2014 01:32GMT
  • Thu 15 May 2014 08:32GMT
  • Sun 18 May 2014 04:32GMT