8.5 million Nigerians Experience Disabling Hearing Loss – WHO

Sandra Ukele

An audiologist from King Saud University in Saudi Arabia has cautioned that most Nigerians are losing their hearing abilities gradually due to generator noise.

Prof. Dele Owolawi  made this affirmation in his state-of-the-art clinic in Lagos where he mentioned that:

”Generator noise is one of those things killing us (Nigerians) and I beg to say that we are dying piecemeal without being aware of it.

"The smoke itself which is carbon monoxide is detrimental to health, the auditory effects and the vibratory effects too. Because the vibration also affects the vestibular system.

"You see people many times they go to the generator set  they pull it and it begins to vibrate.

 "All these things put together is a health destroyer. Constantly being exposed to a generator noise causes  a lot of harm.

“But if someone is compelled to be exposed to a generator noise they need to use earplugs, Prof. Owolawi stressed.

The audiologist gave an estimate from the World Health Organization (WHO) where he  explained:

"The World Health Organization has given a conservative estimate that 8.5 million Nigerians have a disabling hearing loss.

"This includes any hearing loss that is between 40 -70 decibels hearing level downwards.”

Speaking on the issue of youths wearing earplugs, listening to loud music while walking along streets thus causing accidents, the Saudi Arabian Professor has this to say:

"Now wearing the earplugs most of our youths are not aware of the damage that is being caused.

 "Some of them are listening to music the volume is high they do not even realize the volume is high. All they think about is 'I am enjoying myself.' But with the enjoyment comes something else. And that something else is a damage to the auditory cells. It is better if the earplugs are not worn.

“You call somebody on the road he doesn’t even hear. And a car is coming and honking they don’t hear.

"So it’s a trend that we need to educate people on. People need enlightenment and this is the only thing that can liberate this behavior which is detrimental to them and to the society  generally,” he added.

The consultant advised that:
"One of the best things they could do is to put it on their speakers. If you want to listen to music put it on speaker and listen to music.

"But popping out the earphones all the time causes not only fatigue to the ears it causes a mild hearing loss at that point in time. If somebody who is talking to you does not raise his voice higher you might be missing a lot of things.

"We would continue to talk about it, continue to propagate the gospel of safe hearing," he advocated.

He described their work with the Lagos State government affirming:
" We are working in concert with Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency  (LASEPA) and we are a consultant to them. We are giving them some tips concerning professionalism in terms of controlling the noise level not only in the city but also  in the industries.

On the signs to look out for to determine good hearing qualities, Prof. Owolawi advises:
"There are many signs to look out for: if you feel blocked in the ears. For instance the body gives us signals sometimes but you feel that ‘ah this ear is blocked’ you always assume that may be when you took your bath, water or soap entered. You will not know that something is going on in there.

“Maybe you had excess wax secreted into the auditory canal and it takes a professional to see you to say you have excess wax there and we have to clear it.

“Secondly, one can also have ringing sensations like a kind of tiny sound coming up in the ear. One ear or two ears, that’s a sign or symptom that something is happening there.

"Then if you have pain in the ear any form of pain in the ear you should see an audiologist, Prof. Owolawi maintained.

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