Deafness and ear disease
Deafness is the commonest single disability in developing countries.
Deafness is an invisible disability. Without good hearing we cannot
develop normal speech and language. In the developing world sufferers
are frequently unable to benefit from education and therefore have
very poor employment and social prospects.
Deafness most commonly occurs from disorders of the middle or inner
ears. Middle ear infections as well as producing deafness, can cause
persistent ear discharge, and carry a risk of death through serious
complications such as brain abscess. Inner ear deafness is sometimes
present at birth, where it can be hereditary or associated with
maternal infection, such as rubella. In later life degeneration
of the inner ear is a significant problem causing deafness in older
In 1991 a nationwide survey of deafness and ear disease in Nepal
was undertaken by BRINOS, with the guidance of the Liverpool Institute
of Tropical Medicine and the Department of Community Medicine, Tribhuvan
University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), Kathmandu. The main findings
extrapolated from 16,000 people surveyed were:
- 2.7 million out of the population of 19 million were significantly
- 1.5 million had abnormal ear drums indicative of preventable ear
- 32% of hearing impairment is associated with middle ear infection
or its sequelae.
- 70% of those suffering from middle ear infection or its sequelae
are of school age.
- 61% of individuals aware of ear problems had never attended
their local health post.
- of the 39% who had received treatment, 66% were unsatisfied.
- 50% of all ear disease is PREVENTABLE.
Small Child in need of help
Potentially life-threatening middle ear disease
A fistula exposing the mastoid bone: Caused by a dangerous
middle ear infection
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