Prevalence of otitis media, hearing impairment and cerumen impaction among school children in rural and urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 1996; 37(1):29-34IJ
Eight hundred and two (802) primary school children in rural and urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were examined to determine the prevalence of otitis media, hearing impairment and cerumen impaction by otoscopy and pure tone audiometry. Ear disease was found in 222 (27.7%) of the children. One hundred and twenty six (15.7%) had cerumen impaction, 70 (8.7%) had sensorineural hearing loss and 21 (2.6%) had chronic suppurative otitis media. Cerumen impaction was found in 20.45% of the rural school children and in 14.8% of the urban school children. This difference in prevalence between the two groups was not statistically significant. The prevalence of chronic suppurative otitis media (COM) was 9.44% among the rural school children and 1.3% among the urban school children, the difference being statistically significant (P < 0.001). Sensorineural hearing impairment was found in 14.1% of the rural school children and in 7.7% of the urban children, this also being statistically significant (P < 0.05). The low prevalence of chronic suppurative otitis media among the urban school children is ascribed to better medical services which facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of acute otitis media. This emphasizes the need to improve the health services in the rural areas so that acute otitis media is diagnosed and treated at the primary level of health care. This will in turn prevent hearing impairment due to chronic suppurative otitis media.