By Isaack Wahome, ENT and Audiologist. Student of the Master in Clinical Audiology and Hearing Therapy



Hearing loss in children and adults is common and Countries in sub-Saharan Africa experience a myriad of challenges such as identifying causes of diseases, underusage of hearing aids and other enhanced hearing technologies. In Africa, lack of sufficient data can negatively impact on policies and practices of ear and hearing care, especially considering the dynamics in different countries, study findings obtained will be instrumental in addressing some of these gaps. This is a systemic review study aimed at reviewing published articles on common causes of hearing impairment from different countries and interventional measure on hearing aid usages in sub-Saharan Africa.

Design and method: 

Initially, 470 identified articles published between 2010 and 2023 were identified through electronic databases searches in PubMed. After the removal of duplicates, titles and abstracts, 144 studies were screened, of which 166 records were excluded. A total of 30 articles judged were eligible and included in the review. The articles that met the inclusion criteria were from the following sub-Saharan countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Niger, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Portugal and Zimbabwe. Review analysis major theme comprised causes of hearing impairment.


This study identified a widespread cause of hearing loss where age related hearing loss was leading at 75%. Ototoxicity induced hearing loss due to aminoglycosides and anti-tuberculosis comprised 63% and 60 % respectively. Noise induced hearing loss comprised 58.5%. Infections caused by various pathogens as reported in most of the journals where measles comprised 45.8%, bacterial meningitis at 44.4 %, diabetes mellitus 52%, otitis media 45.5%, HIV Infection 24%, Ebola 23%  and Lassa fever 33.2%. Another important factor was wax impaction that contributed 45%. Hearing loss management with hearing device and its uptake was unsatisfactory.


The review provides evidence that indicate Infections are the leading causes of hearing loss in most sub-Saharan Africa countries, with medication, impacted wax and age-related disorder being other causes. Awareness of treatment strategies including hearings device options is lacking. This study will be instrumental in assist hearing care professionals on counseling of families and predicting prognosis of disease by early identification of hearing loss and understanding its etiology.

Download the full Research Work: Isaack Wahome (2023). A systematic review on common causes of hearing loss and need for hearing aid Device intervention in Sub-saharan Africa. SAERA


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