Hearing loss among people in developing countries has been recognized as a major source of disability. Many of its causes are preventable, and others are curable. We reviewed the records of 5,485 patients who had presented during a 4-year period to the National Ear Care Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria. Of these, we identified 1,435 patients-812 males and 623 females, aged 9 months to 90 years (mean: 29.2 yr)-who had been diagnosed with hearing loss (26.2%). In addition to demographic data, we compiled information on each patient's type and degree of hearing loss, the affected side, and the predisposing factors. Sex and age cross-tabulations revealed that the greatest proportion of hearing loss according to sex occurred between the ages of 11 and 20 years for males and 21 and 30 years for females. The most common type of hearing loss was sensorineural, which was seen in 78.9% of patients; conductive hearing loss was seen in 17.7% and mixed in 3.4%. More than three-quarters of hearing losses were either moderate, moderately severe, or severe. Bilateral losses were far more common than unilateral losses; among the latter, the left side was affected slightly more often than the right. Predisposing factors were not documented in the vast majority of cases (87.6%), but when they were, the most common were chronic suppurative otitis media, meningitis, febrile convulsion, measles, and trauma. We present these findings to highlight the burden of hearing loss in our part of the world.
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