I was invited recently to attend a talk in celebration of the Deaf Awereness Week dubbed as "Ano DAW (Deaf Awareness Week) Nga?" And to be honest, I never even thought I would learn so much from the talk. I had to admit, I knew a little about it, more so on how to take good care of our ears. Of course, I knew how to properly clean them alright but I had basically overlooked its importance and the healthy hearing habits that we all need to do for our ears. Allow me to share with you some stuff I had learned from the said forum so that you too could learn a thing or two about them.
During the Ano DAW Nga forum, there was a woman named Bless Buan who had measles when she was pregnant with her child in her trimester. At the time, they were scared something might happen to the baby inside her because of her illness. "I remember being scared because I was aware my baby could acquire meningitis or any infection," recalls Bless Buan. Unfortunately, just as they had expected, the inevitable thing happened, the baby had been affected. But they had not known this until the baby turned two. When Brian was two-years-old, they were wondering why at that certain age he still cannot speak. They thought he was just having some developmental delay in speech until the doctors performed thorough tests on Brian. And that's how they found out, Brian is deaf. He's developed a profound hearing impairment from the time of his conception just as his mother Bless had her measles. As a parent, learning such things would certainly create a big impact on your life. You'll be concerned how your child will be able to lead a normal life.
According to Dr. Joel Romualdez, a resident doctor from St. Luke's Medical Center, "Being deaf will cut you from the society. Bless was right, meningitis caused by ear infection, its prevalence rate is 18% of the child population in the country."
"Bless' son Brian has an ear impairment and it was so profound that he needed a cochlear implant operation in order to lead a normal life. When you say profound, it only means zero sense of hearing and lowest possible to hear na. Cochlear implant is an electronic prosthetic device that enables individuals with sensorineural hearing loss to recognize some sounds and consists of an external microphone and speech processor and one or more electrodes implanted in the cochlea," explains Dr. Romualdez.
"The said operation was truly expensive. It costs a million per operation. One wonders how we were able to raise such huge amount of money. God is good. We sought help from all our friends, family and to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Nothing is impossible. Now each time Brian (now 10 yrs. old) speaks, I really am grateful," relates Bless Buan.
Dr. Alberto Martinez, President of Metro Manila Agencies for the Deaf, who has operated Brian, says that his group had been doing their part to let the public become aware and to take good care of our sense of hearing. The Deaf Awareness Week is in fact held annually, usually in the second week of November. "We conduct pre-hearing tests. World Health Organization says 50% of the hearing loss is preventable. Did you know that 8.8 of the population are hearing disable? Hearing loss certainly affects one's employment. The sad part is there's not much compassion to the hearing impaired," adds Dr. Martinez
In this age of communication, where interaction between individuals is important, public awareness and health is concerned. It doesn't affect just the individual. Back in 2004, St. Luke's initiated the surgery and newborn hearing screening. The law was passed in 2009 as part of the Philhealth coverage.
Early detection is important. Sign language should be taught, children are educated, nowadays, there is no such thing as deaf mute because they can speak.
Dr. Gretchen Navarro Locsin, Pediatric otolaryngology, enumerates the different kinds of hearing loss: Congenital present at birth, part of multiple defects, part of syndromes like down syndrome, idiopathic
Acquired: occurs later
Infections, trauma, nose induced, age related
Handicaps of hearing loss depends on severity
Degrees of hearing loss:
Mild-may hear speech sounds but softsounds are hard to hear
Moderate-may hear no speech when the other person is talking at a normal level
Severe-hears no speech with other persons
Neonatal Hearing Screening
Picking up hearing loss at an early age. It is important so it can be treated/rehabilitated early.
Neonatal hearing screenng is now part of newborn screening package
NHS is covered by Philhealth.
Prevalence of hearing loss in phil. 2.4 percent, there are15/day or 450/month or 5,400a year prevalence of neonatal
For preventive measures, Dr. Locsin says, "Breastfeeding is the way. Breast milk contains all the crucial nutrients for a baby's growth. It also contains infection-fighting properties. Don't you want the best for your child? Consult your doctor if you have concerns about breast-feeding. A good hygiene is equally important."
In this day and age of technology where you will see youngsters with ear gadgets everywhere, too much exposure to excessive noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. Turn down the volume. The tiny hair cells in the inner ear are easily damaged by loud noises, when one loses them, they never grow back!
As a general rule, noise is damaging your ears if:
1. You need to shout to be heard over the noise
2. It causes ear pain
3. It makes the ears ring
4. You experience a loss of hearing for several hours or more after exposure
Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss:
1. Ringing in the ear or tinnitus
2. Difficulty in speech understanding, especially high-pitched sounds
3. Decreased environmental sound awareness.