By Sola Ogundipe
EVEN as hope has been rekindled for Nigerians with auditory (hearing) and vestibular (balance) disorders, as they can now benefit from complete professional audiological medical services here in Nigeria, the increasing cases of congential and other types of hearing loss makes it expedient for the inauguration of a â€œHearing Health Monthâ€ in the country.
With hearing loss becoming more common by the day due to noise exposure and other causative factors, the idea of a Hearing Health Month has beed described as crucial towards reaching those who are reluctant to have their hearing tested.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, Chief Executive of International Hearing Centre (IHC) and Director, Nigerian Army Audiological Centre (NAAC), Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Irene Okeke-Igbokwe, said if Nigeria were to collectively launch the first National Day of Hearing Screening, and initiate a national platform, the determination to eradicate the stigma of admitting a hearing problem would have kicked off.
â€œIt is high time some organisations spoke up to support not only the screening for adults, but also newborn hearing screening across Nigeria, to encourage parents to have their newbornâ€™s hearing tested, preferably before leaving the hospital. Hearing loss is the most common congenital condition for which screening is available.
â€œIf you already suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ear), you should make sure to let your doctor know. This will enable the doctor to avoid prescribing medication that may aggravate tinnitus.â€
The IHC, a company of experts in audiology practice in Nigeria, examined 2030 patients in the last decade, and hearing problems associated with acoustic trauma is 96, idiopathy accounts for 717 cases while ototoxicity accounts for 720.
According to the IHC, in Canada and the USA, every month of May, attention is focused on hearing loss. This is the month that there is a major effort to get more people screened for hearing loss. All stakeholders need to get the word out to the public about hearing loss and to offer free or reduced price for hearing screening, audiologic evaluation and assistance in obtaining hearing aids.â€
â€œWhen there is a barrier in communication, the negative impact on individualâ€™s ability to communicate effectively is evident, thus compromising the emotional, behavioural, educational, socio-economic status and overall quality of life. This should draw public attention to the negative impact of hearing loss and the need for Nigeria to have a Hearing Health Month. â€œ
Citing common causes of hearing loss such as loud noise which contributes to tinnitus ( ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ears), injury or a severe blow to the head, Okeke-Igbokwe, a Fellow of American Academy of Audiology (FAAA) with over three decades experience in clinical audiology, said the IHC successfully established the NAAC, located at the Nigerian Army 68 Reference Hospital, Lagos, and has been managing the centre for over a decade.
â€œOf course you know that this is a success story for the Army. IHC, as it may interest you to know, apart from having international representation, is the sole representative in Nigeria of Siemens Audiologische Technik, Erlangen, Germany and Interacoustics A/S Denmark for hearing instruments and audiologic equipment respectively.
â€œOur new ASSR system is not just another system, but a system that incorporates years of research aimed at taking ASSR a grand step further. Clinicians will appreciate this new technology which allows a more efficient use of session time and at the same time provides highly accurate results with multiple data storage options.â€