Background: Untreated hearing loss or inadequate support for a person's communication requirements can have a substantial negative impact on their quality of life. Despite this, the prevalence, types, and degree of hearing loss in Rwanda are only sparsely documented.

Objectives: The main goal of this study was to assess the prevalence of hearing loss among patients who consulted the RMH ENT department over the period of three years, from 2019 to 2021.

Methods: At the Rwanda Military Hospital, a three-year retrospective study was conducted with a focus on information regarding patients who consulted for hearing loss complaints between 2019 and 2021. Data were gathered using a user-created questionnaire and were then analyzed using SPSS version 21.0. Numerical data were examined using average and standard deviation whereas categorical and nominal variables were evaluated using frequencies and percentages.

Results: In total, 3823 patients consulted the ENT department at RMH. Of these, 703 (18.4%) were confirmed with hearing loss. The average age of patients with hearing loss was 39.6 ± 23.0 years with 44% of those aged 40 years or above. About 58% of patients with hearing loss were male. Sensorineural hearing loss was the major type for 72%, in addition to conductive hearing loss (15%) and mixed hearing loss (13%). In general, 24% of the patients had profound hearing loss, along with 23% who had moderate hearing loss, 20% who had moderately severe hearing loss, 20% who had severe hearing loss, and 13% who had mild hearing loss. Bilateral hearing loss was reported in 56% of the patients. Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM), which was noted in 9% of all patients with hearing loss, despite 72% of the risk factors not being addressed, was followed by trauma (6.5%), presbycusis (4.4%), and acute otitis media (1.7%).

Conclusions: At the Rwanda Military Hospital, hearing loss was prevalent in 18.4% of the cases. About 72% of the patients had sensorineural hearing loss as their primary type of hearing loss. There were 24% and 20% of the patients who had profound and severe hearing loss, respectively. In 56% of the patients, bilateral hearing loss was noted. For 9% of the patients, CSOM was the only significant risk factor. These results indicate that hearing loss is a serious public health concern in Rwanda due to its high prevalence and chronic nature. 

Keywords: hearing loss, audiometry, CSOM

2024-03-01 03:01:55 Lt. Col. Dr. John BUKURU
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