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SICKLE CELL, HEARING LOSS & SPEECH

This customer on his way out of the office beckoned that he wanted to see me in camera. There were two other persons with me, so I had to excuse myself to give him an audience.

“Sir, I would like to know you better. You sound like my countryman. Aren’t you a Liberian? You speak like us…” The enthused young dude asked me.

I rolled my eyes, whistling under my breath: “not again!” Told him I’m Nigerian and Yoruba. He was surprised at my answer but I wasn’t surprised at his question. He had only broadened the countries people had conferred on me by adding Liberia to the list by virtue of my speech. It’s mostly Ghana, Togo or the U.K once peeps heard me speak.

Well, my accent or intonation is the culprit. Some people even perceive me as someone who has an air or trying to sound phonetically “tush” from the way I speak. And, it can be exasperating having people ask you your nationality every time. At a point, i decided to be communicating in pidgin or Yoruba strictly but nothing changed.

On a visit to an ENT doctor years ago, he said my speech sounded like it’s from the nostrils. He called it Nasality, and asked if I had any hearing challenge. I answered in the affirmative. He further explained that my Nasality was as a result of my hearing loss (partial deafness). His explanations made me understand why my speech gave folks the Non-Nigerian impression about me.

Read the link below to understand the relationship between Speech & Hearing Loss…

https://www.intechopen.com/books/update-on-hearing-loss/hearing-loss-and-the-voice

HOW DID I COME ABOUT HEARING LOSS?
It’s known that one of the complications of Sickle Cell Disorder is Hearing Loss. It could be from the onset of birth or at early life. It isn’t farfetched that my Hearing challenge (Profound SNHL) is as a result of my Sickled Genotype, since I happen to be the only one in the family with Hearing Loss.

Read…

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology/article/sensorineural-hearing-loss-in-sickle-cell-anaemia-a-united-kingdom-study/307E0AA6A85F2172A759BEA84A2A6D7A

WHAT IS HEARING LOSS?
Hearing loss is the loss of hearing in one or both ears, ranging from mild, moderate, severe to profound. There are many causes, and it can affect anyone at any age.

Sound’s loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is about 60 dB. Sound above 70 dB are generally considered unsafe. Any sound at or above 85 dBA is more likely to damage the hearing over time.

Getting help for hearing loss begins with a hearing test.
The good news is that there are numerous solutions, including hearing aids.
By learning more about the symptoms, causes, tests, treatments and prevention of hearing loss, it is easier to understand how it impacts you or your loved one, and what you can do about it.

THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF UNTREATED HEARING LOSS

Hearing loss can have far-reaching implications for you and those close to you. Untreated hearing loss can impact your health as well as your well-being.

Research indicates that people with hearing loss have higher rates of depression, social isolation and cognitive decline.

Medically, people with hearing loss face higher medical costs for other health issues and a higher risk of dangerous trips and falls.

For people still in the workforce, hearing loss is linked to unemployment and lower earnings at work.

SYMPTOMS OF HEARING LOSS

The symptoms of hearing loss can vary depending on the type of hearing loss, the cause of hearing loss, and the degree of loss.

But in general, people who have hearing loss may experience any or all of the following:

1. Difficulty understanding everyday conversation

2. A feeling of being able to hear but not understand

3. Having to turn up high the TV or radio volume.

4. Asking others to repeat themselves often.

5. Avoidance of social activities that were once enjoyable.

6. A sense of exhaustion after a day of listening to other people speak.

7. Increased difficulty communicating in noisy situations like restaurants, lively family gatherings, in the car or in group meetings.

8. Tinnitus, or ringing and/or buzzing sounds in the ears

TYPES OF HEARING LOSS

There are three main types of hearing loss, and you can read more about each type here.

1. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It is permanent and caused by many different conditions that damage tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear or the auditory nerve.

The auditory nerve carries important information about the loudness, pitch and meaning of sounds to the brain.

Sensorineural hearing loss can often result in difficulty understanding sound or speech even though it is loud enough to hear.

2. Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the outer or middle ear or an obstruction in the ear canal, such as earwax that blocks sound from getting to the eardrum. It can be permanent, but more often it is temporary and can be medically treated.

3. Mixed hearing loss is when a person has both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS

There are many causes of hearing loss, and it’s important to figure out what is causing the hearing loss to determine the right treatment.

Any of the following scenarios increase your risk of developing gradual hearing loss:

1. Having a family history of hearing loss, or genetic disorders such as Sickle Cell Disorder, etc that cause hearing loss.

2. Being over 60 years old, when age-related hearing loss is more likely to occur

3. Frequent exposure to loud noises, such as gunfire

4. The more of these risk factors you have, the more likely you will experience hearing loss. The hearing loss is usually gradual. These are the most common risk factors, but there are some surprising risk factors, too.

LESS COMMON CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS

Hearing loss can also be caused by any of the following conditions:

1. Certain medications, sometimes called “Ototoxic” drugs.

2. Trauma or injury to the head

3. Certain illnesses such as Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis or autoimmune disease

4. Acoustic neuroma

HEARING LOSS TREATMENTS

Hearing loss is a well-understood medical condition that has many tried-and-true treatment options.

Finding the right treatment is a joint venture between you and your hearing care professional, and if done properly, takes into consideration the following factors:

* Type of hearing loss

* Severity of hearing loss

* Cause, if known

* Your lifestyle

* Your age and your communication needs

* Your cosmetic preferences

* Your budget

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss.

Some types of hearing loss, especially conductive types, can be medically or surgically corrected but others cannot.

The most common treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is properly fitted hearing aids.

Hearing aids are widely available in a range of styles, colors, sizes, technology levels, and price points.

CHILDREN AND HEARING LOSS

Hearing loss is harmful to people of all ages, but for children, it has special implications.

Because babies and young children need to hear in order to develop spoken language, good hearing is the foundation for spoken communication, social development and educational success.

Most hospitals screen every newborn for potential hearing loss. Those infants identified by the screening are referred for further testing to confirm the presence of hearing loss and gather more information so decisions can be made regarding intervention. If your child has a hearing loss, you are encouraged to talk with an Audiologist.

Hearing loss in children can be caused by congenital factors, genetic disorder, head trauma, medications, childhood illnesses, persistent middle ear infections, deformities of the ear canal or malfunctioning eardrums.

Treatment of childhood hearing loss depends largely on the underlying cause. Identification of hearing loss and intervention prior to 6 months of age has been shown to dramatically improve outcomes for kids.

– Tayo Faloye
Disability & Sickle Cell Organization of Nigeria (DISCON).

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