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Malaria and the Senses

This blog is categorised as “Curiosity in a field I know nothing about”

As my regular readers will know, we have a deaf child at the Twiga Centre, Simon, who is around 8 years old. As a baby of about 5 months, he contracted malaria and as a result [?] became deaf. Consequently, he has never learned to talk.

While I am wasting away in the UK, I am looking for ways that we may be able to help Simon; top of the list is to see if he responds to hearing aids, and I have received several from well-wishers.

But, my curiosity is asking me questions that I cannot answer. Why does malaria affect hearing (or sight, come to that)? Does it attack the mechanical bits in the ear itself, does it damage the nerves between the ear and the brain, or dies it damage the brain itself? Or, is there no one cause of deafness after malaria?

Having no knowledge of medical matters, tropical diseases and their effects, or the workings of the brain, I set about trying to work this out logically.

I only know of two people who have had adverse effects to their senses after contracting malaria, Simon, who has lost his hearing, and a Twitter friend, whose sight was severely affected after contracting the disease.

As far as I know, sight and hearing are not connected, so it would seem logical that it is a part of the brain that is affected by the illness rather than the primary organs themselves.

If this is the case, will a hearing aid help Simon? Is there any treatment, however intrusive, that could restore his hearing? I need to know.

So, I put out a plea to the doctors and hearing specialists who read blogs, who Tweet, or who stumble over this blog by other means Please can you satisfy my curiosity and possibly help this boy to regain some form of hearing, and eventually the ability to talk.

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Categories: Engineering
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