Deafness is not only associated with permanent hearing loss but also partial hearing which calls for the use of special hearing aids.
According to Kenyatta National Referral Hospital audiologist Dr. Simon Moranja, symptoms may be mild, moderate, severe or profound.
Moranja says mild hearing is usually associated with the inability to understand speech in a noisy environment. These are people who require a quite environment for them to keenly follow a conversation.
“A hearing aid is a special device that a patient puts on his or her ear to boost voices so as to enable him or her to hear clearly. Usually, the hearing aid is set depending on the audiogram drawn during the hearing assessment,” says Moranja.
He explains that severe deafness is a defect that does not allow the patient to hear completely. Usually, the patient depends on lip reading or sign language, where the patients follow the movement of a speaker’s lips to connect the words.
“In this case, the use of hearing aids does not assist the patient. Those suffering from this defect use lip reading or sign language,” he says, adding that loss of hearing can be due to a congenital defect where one is born deaf or through sickness.
“Those who lose their hearing find it easy to ‘hear’ through lip reading as compared to those who were born deaf. This is so because they can connect the words by monitoring the movement of the lips. Those who are born deaf only have an option of learning sign language as the medium of communication,” he says.
During a campaign conducted by the Kenya Society for Deaf in Narok North Sub County three weeks ago to assess people with hearing problems, it was clear that many people were suffering partial hearing because of accumulation of wax in the ear.
“Wax is meant to protect the ear from dust, fur and other substances likely to penetrate to the eardrum,” notes Moranja.
The medical doctor cautions all residents to clean their ears regularly using a soft material to prevent accumulation of wax. “Accumulation of wax and the collected dust are both likely to block the ear, hence the patient will experience loss of hearing,” he notes.
Moranja notes that in some instances, deafness occurs when one pierces the internal parts of the ear with sharp objects which cause damage to the eardrum leading to loss of hearing.
Samuel Mongare, a standard six pupil at Ill-Mashariani Primary school in Narok had his hearing reinstated during the campaign after Dr. Moranja removed wax that had blocked his ear; the wax looked like dead cockroaches.
“Mongare is a bright student despite the fact that he has been having hearing problems in class which forced me to change his sitting position in class,” says his teacher Mrs. Christine Kamau.
Kamau lauds the Kenya Society for the Deaf for conducting the free assessment in the area as there are many affected children in her school. “This shows some of the causes of deafness can be prevented by regularly cleaning our ears to remove the wax,” says Kamau.
Trickson Omondi, a six year old boy at Sally Junior Academy in class one has been having problems with his ear since childhood. His ears blocked after a cockroach logged in his ear and later pus started oozing from the ear making it very painful.
This situation forced Omondi’s mother Ms. Judith Oduor to take her son for medication at the Narok County Referral Hospital; unfortunately, the hospital is not equipped to deal with complex ear problems.
“My son could only get help if the ear was dry,” she says, adding that none of the medics made any effort to remove the cockroach.
Oduor says all she did was to take her son for regular checkups which were very expensive as she is a single mother and supports her family by eking a living doing menial jobs.
“I had to pay a fee of Sh. 200 every time I took him to hospital,” says Oduor, adding that the boy had problems in school as the pain in his ears made it impossible for him to attend school; consistently.
Another boy, Hillary Kilele, 18, was discovered to be partially deaf though his parents had earlier taken him to a deaf school. The parents had taken him to Litein School for the deaf due to lack of knowledge that the boy could hear partially.
Dr. Moranja who was carrying out the assessment advised the boy’s guardian Mr. Christopher Samoei to purchase hearing aids as that would allow him to learn in a normal school.
“Kilele has been performing poorly in his school due to his inability to hear well,” says his uncle.
Moranja challenged the teachers and parents to inspect their children regularly so as to control such disorders.
“Parents and teachers should join hands to reduce some of these common but controllable causes of hearing loss by often checking the ears of the children while they are at home or in school to ensure they are not blocked by dust,” says Moranja.
The Kenya Society for the Deaf Children Programme Coordinator Dr. George Gachanja called upon parents with children who have permanent hearing loss to take the children to special schools where they can be taught how to read and write.
“Those who are already deaf can learn comfortably in special schools, parents do not have to keep their children at home,” Gachanja says adding that the partially deaf can attend normal school comfortably by the help of the hearing aid.
“This can only be achieved when parents take their children for assessment. The assessment is important as a parent is then advised on the best learning institution a person with hearing loss should attend,” says Gachanja.
Gachanja recommends a public awareness campaign on deafness and hearing loss to sensitize the public as a way to reduce stigma among the affected parties.
Narok County Director of Health Dr. Francis Kiio lauded the society for carrying out the program in the county, adding that the county will continue partnering with Kenya Society for the Deaf so as to help people with hearing disorders.
Source: Kenya News Agency