Causes of Hearing Impairment
- Family history of childhood deafness – Deafness in family members
- Consanguinous marriages-Marriage between close relations such as uncle-niece, first cousin.
- Blood group complications or Rh incompatibility –
- Infectious diseases or illnesses during pregnancy (e.g. syphilis, German measles or Rubella with fever, mumps)
- Very poor physical condition of the expectant mother.
- Excessive alcohol or nicotine intake by the expectant mother.
- Intake of ototoxic drugs. (Ototoxic drugs are drugs that can damage the hearing mechanism if used indiscriminately. For e.g Gentamycin, amikacin, quinine preparations etc.)
- Excessive exposure to X-rays.
During the Birth Process:
- Birth Asphyxia (lack of oxygen supply to the new born due to inability to breathe normally resulting in blueness of baby due to various reasons).
- Delayed or feeble birth cry.
- Birth weight less than 1200 grams.
- Deformities of ear, nose, face & throat.
- Jaundice, high fever or convulsions immediately after birth.
- Infectious diseases (e.g. whooping cough, mumps, measles, syphilis, meningitis, viral fever, T.B.)
- Intake of antibiotics for a long duration. (especially those known to be ototoxic)
- Injury to the head and /or ear – (by accidents etc.)
- Continuous exposure to loud sounds. High blood pressure, diabetes.
- Tumor on the auditory nerve.
- Middle ear infections, ear discharge etc.
Prevention of Hearing Impairment
- Avoid marriages amongst close relatives.
- Immunize adolescent girls and women in child bearing age against Rubella.
- Ensure good health of the expectant mother – seek health check-ups at regular intervals.
- Expectant mother should avoid contact with persons suffering from infectious diseases.
- Make sure that the delivery is performed under the supervision of a trained person.
- Follow the child's immunization schedule properly.
- Maintain good ear hygiene:
- Keep the ears clean, free from dust, water, wax etc.
- Do not clean or scratch your ears with pointed objects like matchsticks, hairpins, pencils etc. It can rupture the eardrum or injure the ear canal.
- Avoid slap or blow to the ear as it can cause a hearing problem that may be irreversible.
- Keep a watch on young children playing with tiny objects like beads, seeds etc. If they put them in the ear, the eardrum may get ruptured or the ear canal may be injured.
- Do not put oil or any other liquid in the ear as they can result in pain, swelling and ear discharge. Keep your ears dry always.
- Do not swim in dirty water. Unclean water entering the ear can cause ear infection. While swimming always plug your ears with cotton, especially while diving. This prevents the water from directly entering your ear and rupturing the eardrum.
- Do not have your ears cleaned by roadside quacks. They use unclean instruments, which may cause infection. The eardrum too may get damaged. Clean your ears with cotton buds regularly or get them cleaned by a doctor.
- Avoid using unwashed pillow covers, towels, etc., used by a person with ear discharge. This may cause infection in your ear too.
- While feeding a baby keep its head raised otherwise milk may enter into the ear cavity (through the small passage connecting the throat and the ear). It can cause pain with swelling and ear discharge.
- Avoid exposure to loud sounds.
- Do not take medicines without the doctor’s advice.
- Use ear protectors while working in noisy places.
Many of the factors causing hearing impairment cannot be always controlled. But knowledge about these factors helps us in identifying ‘at risk’ individuals. A detailed hearing evaluation is recommended to start rehabilitative measures as early as possible to ensure a bright future for the individual.