Hearing Loss / Deafness


According to WHO , more than 5% of the world’s population i.e. 466 million people suffer from hearing disability. It is estimated that by 2050, one in every ten people will suffer from hearing disability.

The normal hearing threshold is 25 dB or better in both ears. If a person is not being able to hear as well as someone having normal hearing, then that person is suffering from hearing loss.Hearing loss can range from mild to severe and can affect one ear or both ears.

“Deaf” people are those who suffer from profound hearing loss, which means very little or no hearing.

Types of Hearing Loss


Conductive

It is caused due to problems with the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. In this type of hearing loss, the outer and the middle ear cannot send sound waves to the inner ear. Few causes are: –

  • Ear structure is not formed properly.
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Ear infection and allergies
  • Otosclerosis

Sensorineural

It is caused due to problems of the inner ear. In this condition, the inner ear fails to convert sounds into electric impulses and send them to the brain for processing which makes us “hear”. Few causes are:-

  • Prolonged exposure to loud noise
  • Ageing or Heredity
  • Head Trauma and Tumors
  • Virus or disease

Mixed

When hearing loss is partially conductive and partially sensorineural it is called mixed hearing loss. It is measured in an audiology lab & graded as mild, moderate or severe depending on how bad the condition is.

Symptoms


  • A feeling that people are mostly mumbling or speaking illegibly
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Watching TV with a very high volume or talking too loudly.
  • Getting ringing, hissing or roaring sounds in the ear.
  • For children, the symptoms are, delay in speech and language development, failing to identify the origin of a sound, learning disability, not getting startled at loud sounds.

Precautions & Treatments


  • Hearing loss due to Otosclerosis (bony growth around the small bone in middle ears )can be treated either by installing a hearing aid or through a surgical process called stapedotomy (artificial prosthesis is strategically positioned inside the ear)
  • Serous Otitis Media (Fluid in ears) in children is treated by facilitating ventilation of middle ear to destroy underlying infection or in serious cases by a surgical treatment is myringotomy grommet. In adults, Serous Otitis Media is caused by sinusitis (Sinus infection), adenoiditis (inflammation of adenoid tissue) or mass behind the nose.
  • Sudden loss of hearing can occur due to trauma, viral infection, blood flow compromises or tumours, or side effects of some medication. If there is a sudden loss of hearing, then visit an ENT Specialist without delay.
  • If there is blockage of the ear due to wax, never use an earbud to clear it, as they just push the ear wax deeper and makes things worse. 
  • To reduce the risk of a child getting ear infection following precautions can be taken: –
        • Do not smoke around children.
        • Breastfed babies have higher immunity than bottle-fed babies.
        • Make sure to bottle feed a baby in a sitting position. Feeding a child lying down can get the milk flowing into the baby’s middle ear and cause infections.
        • Remain alert towards allergies.

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