Nigerian children lose hearing from untreated ear infections

Many cases of hearing loss in Nigerian children are the result of untreated or late diagnosed middle ear infections. Earlier diagnoses and treatment would prevent most of this hearing loss, but poverty is the main hindrance.

Chronic ear infections are the most common cause of hearing loss in Nigerian children, according to two recent studies from Africa's most populous country.

Infection of the middle ear was found to be the most prevalent ear affliction among Nigerian children in a study published in 2007. One child in three at an otology clinic in the town of Ife was diagnosed with infection of the middle ear such as otitis media, and among those, one in four suffered from hearing loss.

A hearing clinic in the capital of Abuja reported that middle ear infections were the cause of one case in four of hearing loss in child-patients, according to a study published in 2008.

The role of poverty

Early and timely treatment would prevent many middle ear infection related cases of hearing loss, according to the scientists behind the Ife study. But often poverty was found to be a difficult barrier, particularly for the diagnosis and treatment of children from rural areas, wrote the researchers. Children living in rural poverty often come to the hospital only when their ear infections have brought complications.

The researchers proposed training local health care people to be able to detect ear infection symptoms early and refer the children for relevant treatment.

Sources: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.
Published on hear-it on November 6, 2008.

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