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Childhood hearing loss

Vishaal Kumar
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

FORTY per cent of childhood hearing loss is genetically related.

This was highlighted by ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital Dr Oh Chunghyeon, who said the other 31 per cent of childhood hearing loss was related to infectious diseases such as meningitis, mumps, rubella, measles and ear infections.

"We have 17 per cent of childhood hearing loss because of birth-related causes for example, complications at birth, prematurity and low birth weight," Dr Chunghyeon said.

"The other 12 per cent of childhood hearing loss is responsible for ototoxic medicine, trauma and noise."

He said hearing screening and early identification of ear disease in children was of paramount value for reducing the burden of disease of hearing loss.

"Appropriate interventions can minimise speech and language development delays, communication, education and social development problems," he said.

"If we identify a baby with congenital hearing problem and provide timely and appropriate hearing care, the baby will be at par with their peers in terms of language development by the time they are five years old."

He said for those children who developed hearing loss at a later age, regular school-based hearing screening could effectively identify hearing loss and reduce its negative impact.

"The choice of interventions depends on the degree and cause of the hearing impairments. Ear infections, such as otitis media effusion and chronic suppurative otitis media, are manageable with medical and surgical treatments," he said.

"Although hearing loss because of other causes is irreversible, its impact can be reduced through hearing aid, speech therapy and nonverbal communication such as sign language and lip-reading." He added hearing and ear hygiene was simple but essential with many patients suffering with these problems because of bad ear hygiene.

"It is of paramount importance that we do not insert anything into the ears. Do not use home remedies in your ears. Do not listen to loud music. If you have an ear problem, see a doctor," he said.

"The ear is a self-cleaning organ, therefore it does not require any active cleaning. Cotton buds should not be used for cleaning ears. Also, please do not use any oil, sticks, pins because these can lead to infection in the ear."

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