Finally, Presidency Admits Buhari Has Ear Infection

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  • Travels to UK today for treatment

By Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

The Presidency has confirmed speculations surrounding the state of health of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he is suffering from ear infection and will travel today to the United Kingdom for treatment.

A statement yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said the president would today proceed on a 10‎-day leave, which he would spend in London.

“During the holiday, he will see an E.N.T. specialist ‎for a persistent ear infection,” he said, explaining: “The president was examined by his Personal Physician and an E.N.T. Specialist in Abuja and was treated. Both Nigerian doctors recommended further evaluation purely as a precaution.”

Prior to the statement, reports had it that the president had an ear infection.

While there was no official confirmation, ‎the inability of the president to embark on public outings as he confined himself to the State House gave credence to the speculation.

‎On three recent occasions, the president cancelled official trips within and outside the country due to the infection and was represented at those events by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Last weekend, the vice-president had to represent the president in Papua New Guinea where the 8th Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States held.

Osinbajo also represented the president at the 48th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which held in Dakar, Senegal.

‎The president was again unable to travel to Lagos State to inaugurate some projects executed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode despite elaborate preparations to receive him, a development that shocked many members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-west even as he could not travel to Rivers State to kick-start the Ogoni clean-up project.

At both occasions, he was represented by the vice-president.

Despite his health challenges, however, the president managed to attend the Jumat service and hosted some important visitors, including former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as well as some clergymen on Friday.

The president had been said to be having an infection in his left ear, a disease known as “Meniere’s Disease’’, a claim the Presidency had denied last Saturday.

But speculations persisted that Buhari was suffering from hearing impairment and routinely complained of severe pains and unusual sounds from that ear.

According to Wikipedia, Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that usually affects both hearing and balance. It is characterised by episodes of vertigo and by fluctuating or permanent tinnitus and hearing loss. The condition affects people differently. It can range in intensity from being a mild annoyance to a disabling disease.

“The condition is named after the French physician Prosper Ménière, who in an article from 1861 described the main symptoms and was the first to suggest a single disorder for all of the symptoms, in the combined organ of balance and hearing in the inner ear,’’ Wikipedia stated.

“The immediate cause of Ménière’s disease is endolymphatic hydrops, an excess of fluid in the inner ear. The possible causes of endolymphatic hydrops, in turn, are not well understood. For this reason a causal treatment of endolymphatic hydrops – and thus also for Ménière’s disease – does not exist.

“However, episodes of vertigo usually subside as the illness progresses or stabilises, and most patients learn to manage tinnitus and hearing loss. This even applies to patients who are affected in both ears from some point in the course of their lives.’’

The encyclopaedia added that Ménière’s is characterised by recurrent episodes of vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus, saying though it often begins with a single symptom, the disease gradually progresses.

It further stated: “The diagnosis of Ménière’s disease is made only if patients complain of both episodic vertigo and episodic sensorineural hearing loss. While these symptoms could be related to a variety of ear-related illnesses, Ménière’s disease is characterised by the occurrence of 2-3 symptoms at the same time, in discrete episodes.

“Conditions with partly similar symptoms – but no connection to Ménière’s disease – include syphilis, Cogan’s syndrome, autoimmune inner ear disease, dysautonomia, perilymph fistula, multiple sclerosis, acoustic neuroma, and both hypo- and hyperthyroidism.

“Ménière’s symptoms vary. Not all sufferers experience the same symptoms. However the classic presentation of Ménière’s has the following three symptoms: vertigo attacks of rotational vertigo can be severe, incapacitating, unpredictable, and last anywhere from minutes to hours.

“Generally the vertigo lasts no longer than 24 hours. For some, prolonged attacks can occur, lasting from several days to several weeks, often severely incapacitating the sufferer. This typically combines with increased tinnitus and temporary, albeit significant, hearing loss. The hearing loss may improve once the attack has subsided, but often becomes progressively worse and permanent over time.’’

Tracing the cause, Wikipedia said Ménière’s disease is linked to endolymphatic hydrops, an excess of fluid in the inner ear, adding that the membranous labyrinth, a system of membranes in the ear, contains a fluid called endolymph.

In Ménière’s disease, endolymph bursts from its normal channels in the ear and flows into other areas, causing damage.

“This accumulation of fluid is referred to as hydrops. The membranes become dilated (stretched thin, like a balloon) when pressure increases and drainage is blocked. This may be related to swelling of the endolymphatic sac or other tissues in the vestibular system of the inner ear, which is responsible for the body’s sense of balance,’’ it further stated.