Born deaf? Here is how you can help your newborn baby hear

Born deaf? Here is how you can help your newborn baby hear
Dr Malik Lukojo at his work station at Juba Medical Complex. [Photo Kevin Ogutu, City Review]

It is common for people, both young and old, to insert nearly anything into their ears whenever they itch. For those who can afford it, an ear bud comes handy. But for some, a pen cap, index finger or anything pointed comes in handy.

But Dr Malik Lukojo, a qualified ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist has a number of warnings that many take for granted, yet some of these practices are responsible for gradual hearing loss to the point of being deaf.

It is a busy Monday morning at the Juba Medical Complex off Unity Road. I am here on appointment with Dr Malik Lukojo, who is ENT specialist in this establishment.

He is also an assistant lecturer at the University of Upper Nile, College of Medicine. As a layman that I am, my first question is why he is treating three organs that is ear, nose and throat as though they are one, yet we can see that they are different, save for the fact that they are all in the head.

“ENT is actually one track. The ear, nose and throat are all connected. We have the connection from the nose, throat all through to the larynx and to the lungs where it ends. There is a connection between the nose and the ear through a canal called the Eustachian tube,” he says.

Eustachian tube is a canal that connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx, which consists of the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity. It controls the pressure within the middle ear, making it equal with the air pressure outside the body.

“Any disease that affects the nose will definitely affect the ear and vice versa. They are all one, and they are in the epithelial lining. There are a lot of mistakes that people make unknowingly since we are dealing with three sensitive areas that are all interconnected,” says Dr Malik.

But it is the ear that both the young and the old have a big problem taking care of, according to Dr Malik. Ear cleaning with a cotton bud is wrong according to him because the ear has specialised cells that are supposed to clear out the dirt whenever they accumulate and these are fine and sensitive cells.

“This is supposed to be a natural process. But if you introduce a cleaning part, in this case the cotton buds, you will introduce the dirt inside and on top of that damage the cells thus causing more harm than good,” he says.

The next problem that he is warning people against in unnecessary prescription of drugs or the infamous over the counter (OTC) drugs where people just walk into a pharmacy and buy an ear drop.

“For us ear drops are prescribed according to the disease. But for a layman, they do not know what disease it is. They all want to go for common antibiotics without first establishing what the problem is. If for instance your ear problem is as a result of a fungal disease but instead you go for an antibiotic, then you will be causing more problems. The fungus will actually flourish instead of you curing the disease,” he says.

The bottom line according to Dr Malik is that everyone must first see a qualified medical doctor, and where possible an ENT specialist so that they can be observed and a professional prescription done without the fear of wrong prescription.

He is calling upon the public to know that any problem in the ear will be preceded by symptoms before it becomes a full-blown health problem. There are symptoms, or signs that will tell that not all is well.

“Before the ear starts to smell or discharge pus, it has to pain first, itch. If it is a child the child will keeping touching the ear while crying. SO you will tell that the ear has a problem. In some instances, level of hearing will reduce or drop,” he says.

When kids insert foreign bodies in ears

Dr Malik notes that one of the challenges that particularly affect children and their parents alike because they are the care givers is the introduction of foreign bodies. When a child for instance inserts a bead or some grain into their ear, the first impulse is that the parent or the adult who is around will want to remove the foreign body. This is wrong according to Dr Malik. You need to rush the minor to a nearby health facility without even attempting to remove the foreign body.

“If we as professionals get the first chance to remove the foreign body, then it will be an easy task because we understand the anatomy of the kids head and how to go about with the help of medical equipment where necessary. The best chance is the first chance,” he says.

If somebody from the community tries to remove it, then chances are that the ear canal will swell and this may call for a surgical process to remove the foreign body. This ultimately will mean a higher medical expenditure.

The three most common ear complications according to Dr Malik are chronic suppurative otitis media which causes recurrent or persistent discharge (otorrhea). It usually occurs as a complication of persistent acute otitis media (AOM) with perforation in childhood.

Next is Acute otitis media (AOM), which is a painful type of ear infection. It occurs when the area behind the eardrum called the middle ear becomes inflamed and infected.

Last but not least there is congenital hearing loss meaning hearing loss that is present at birth. Causes of hearing loss in newborns include infections, such as rubella or herpes simplex virus, premature birth, low birth weight among other causes.

The Nose

The most common problem with reference to the nose especially in South Sudan is allergy, which can only be controlled as there is no drug for it. Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a particular substance as though it’s harmful. These could be pollen grains, or perfumes.

“Nose bleeding is common among children up to the age of 12. Here it may just occur without any medical cause. But sometimes they may prick their noses and this instigates nose bleeding,” he says.

However, if there is a frequent instances of nose bleeding in an adult, there that is an indication of some underlying medical problem(s).

“In an adult this could be because of hypertension, or a damaged liver to the extent that it (liver) cannot manufacture coagulant factors that should help arresting possible noise bleeding. Anything that will result in lighter blood such as aspirin for instance may cause nose bleeding in an adult,” he says.