Posted on March 05, 2018

Since opening in 2003, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Audiology and Balance Unit has fitted over 5,000 patients with hearing aids and helped 245 patients hear again, or in some cases for the first time, by providing them with cochlear implants.

The Audiology and Balance Unit provides a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment program, caring for adults and children who are experiencing hearing loss. The early diagnosis of hearing loss in children is especially important, as hearing impairments can lead to delayed development of listening and spoken language skills. Qatar is recognized as a leader in the early detection of hearing weakness and loss due to the establishment of the National Center for Early Detection of Hearing Loss. Established in 2003, the program provides hearing screenings to all babies born in Qatar prior to their discharge from the hospital. Under the program, all babies are tested again when they have their first vaccination, normally between two to three months of age and children are also screened prior to starting school.

HMC provides the gift of good 2 [].jpgOne of the most diagnosed conditions treated at the Audiology and Balance Unit is sensorineural hearing loss. Acquired sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs after birth, can be caused by a number of factors, including aging, noise (noise-induced hearing loss), disease or infection, and trauma. In contrast, congenital sensorineural hearing loss, a condition that is present at birth, can be either inherited or caused by abnormal development during pregnancy. More than 600 children and adults are treated for sensorineural hearing loss every year at the Audiology and Balance Unit.

Speaking about the condition, Dr. Khalid Abdul Hadi, Senior Consultant, Hearing and Balance Disorders and Director of the Audiology and Balance Unit, highlighted the example of a long-term patient, a young Qatari girl, who was born deaf in 2008 but was able to hear after being treated for sensorineural hearing loss. “Rouda was born at Women’s Hospital in 2008 and a day after her birth received a routine hearing test offered to all newborn babies as part of the National Program for Early Detection of Hearing Loss. Hearing loss was suspected and her parents were advised to return two weeks later for another test,” explained Dr. Abdul Hadi.

After Rouda’s diagnosis she was fitted with hearing aids in both ears and began auditory verbal therapy three times a week; the highly specialist therapy aims to enable a child to learn to talk through listening. Rouda continued to struggle to communicate so her care team began discussing the option of cochlear implants with her family. Prior to fitting Rouda with the implants, the Qatar Cochlear Implant team counseled her parents about the surgery and the post-surgery care needed. Cochlear implants are devices that can provide sound for people who receive little or no benefit from hearing aids. In some cases, a cochlear implant may be more successful than hearing aids because the devise converts sound into electrical signals that bypass the damaged cochlea and directly stimulate the hearing nerve.

HMC provides the gift of good 3 [].jpg

Today Rouda is a happy and healthy nine-year-old who her doctors boast is one of the best students in her class. She speaks English and Arabic fluently. In recognition of World Hearing Day, held each year on 3 March, this week HMC will hold a number of events for staff and members of the public to raise awareness of the rising global prevalence of hearing loss and the importance of preventative actions to protect one’s hearing. “To highlight World Hearing Day, we have arranged a number of activities including lectures, school visits, and a community day event to raise the public’s awareness of hearing loss, which affects over 466 million people worldwide,” said Dr. Abdul Hadi.