Early detection key to overcoming hearing problems, say doctors

‘OAE machine can detect abnormalities in one-day-old infants’

September 27, 2020 11:44 pm | Updated 11:44 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

When a child turns three, but still fails to respond whenever he or she is called, parents usually dismiss it as ‘disinterest’ on the part of their child without realising that there could be an underlying problem.

It is important to detect hearing problems early in children and to initiate remedial measures. Thankfully, it is no longer difficult to identify hearing problems in children. An Otto Acoustic Emission (OAE) machine can detect hearing abnormalities in one-day-old infants. If there is any discrepancy, further tests can be conducted for confirmation and remedial action, say doctors.

“An OAE device is available at the Government ENT Hospital in the city. Early screening with OAE will help in undertaking further audiometry tests, if needed. After the baby turns a month old, more specific tests like Brain-stem Evoked Response Audiometry (BERA) can be conducted. The baby has to remain in a lying position and electrodes have to be placed on the head,” says Dr. B. Ramachandra Rao, Associate Professor at the Government Hospital.

State Referral Hospital

“No surgical procedures are being done at the hospital at present in view of the pandemic. There is a decline in the number of outpatients in view of the restrictions on public transport. OAE machines are also available at some private paediatric hospitals,” he says.

The Government ENT Hospital in the city has been recognised as a State Referral Hospital by the Appellate Board.

“On an average, three children are brought to the hospital every day for OAE and BERA tests, during normal times. The figure for Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA) tests, performed on older children and adults, is 30 on an average. Certificates are issued to three persons on an average to enable them to get the pension being extended by the State government,” says K. Srinivasa Rao, Audiologist and Speech Therapist at the Government ENT Hospital.

“The State government has approved the conduct of cochlear implant surgeries for both ears among children in the target age group. When this is implemented, Andhra Pradesh will be the first in the world to provide for implants for both ears. However, I had expressed my reservations against it as I first want all children to be covered for one ear first, after which the second ear,” says Dr. S.K.E. Appa Rao, noted ENT surgeon and International Board Member of Global Cochlear Implant Access Network (GCIAN).

“I had told the same to Dr. A. Mallikarjuna, Chief Executive Officer of Dr. YSR Arogyasri Health Care Trust and he was convinced,” Dr. Appa Rao said.

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