By Medicover Hospitals / 11 Mar 2021
Hearing loss, deafness, or hearing loss refers to the total or partial inability to hear sounds. Signs can be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. A patient with mild hearing loss may have difficulty understanding speech, especially if there is a lot of noise around, while those with moderate hearing loss may need a hearing aid.
- What is hearing loss?
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is the condition that occurs when part of your ear is not working as it should. It is the third most common health problem, and it can affect the quality of your life and your relationships.
You can have three different types of hearing loss, depending on where your hearing is damaged. Your hearing loss may be:
Certain conditions, including age, disease, and genetics, can play a role in hearing loss. Modern life has added a host of ear-damaging items to the list, including certain medications and many sources of loud, continuous noise. Find out more about the common causes of hearing loss.
With so many incurable cases of hearing loss, prevention is the best way to keep hearing long term. If you've ever lost your hearing, there are ways to stay connected and connect with friends and family.
- Driver if it involves your outer or middle ear
- Neurosensory if it touches your inner ear
- Mixed if it is a combination of the two
There are many causes of hearing loss and it is important to determine what is causing the hearing loss to determine the right treatment.
Risk factors for hearing loss:
Any of the following scenarios increases your risk of developing progressive hearing loss:
The more of these risk factors you have, the more likely you are to have hearing loss. Hearing loss is usually progressive. These are the most common risk factors, but there are some surprising risk factors as well.
- Be over 60, when age-related hearing loss is more likely to occur
- Frequent exposure to excessive noise, such as loud machinery or gunshots
- Having a close family regarding hearing loss or a family history of genetic disorders with hearing loss
Less common causes of hearing loss:
During this time, hearing loss can also be caused by any of the following conditions:
- Certain drugs sometimes called "ototoxic" drugs
- Trauma or injury to the head
- Certain diseases such as Meniere's disease, otosclerosis, or an autoimmune disease
- Acoustic neuroma
Patients who suspect that something is wrong with their hearing will see their doctor first.
The doctor will speak to the patient and ask several questions regarding the symptoms, including when they started, whether or not they got worse or not, and whether the individual is experiencing pain along with the hearing loss.
A physical examination:
The doctor will examine the ear using an otoscope. It is an instrument with a light at the end. The following can be detected during the examination:
The doctor will ask questions about the person's experiences with hearing, including:
- a blockage caused by a foreign object
- a collapsed eardrum
- a buildup of earwax
- infection in the ear canal
- a middle ear infection if a bulge is present in the eardrum
- cholesteatoma, a skin growth behind the eardrum in the middle ear
- fluid in the ear canal
- a hole in the eardrum
- Do you often find yourself asking people to repeat what they have said?
- Do you have trouble understanding people on the phone?
- Do you miss the doorbell when it rings? If so, does this happen frequently?
- When chatting with people face to face, do you need to focus carefully?
- Has anyone ever told you that you might have a hearing problem?
- Do you find more people mumbling today than before?
- Internal you hear a sound, do you often have trouble determining where it is coming from?
- When several people are talking, do you have trouble understanding what one of them is saying to you?
- Are you often told that the television, radio, or other sound-producing device is too noisy?
- Do you find male voices easier to understand than female voices?
- Do you spend most of the day in a noisy environment?
- Have you often found yourself misunderstanding what other people tell you?
- Do you hear rushing, hissing, or ringing noises?
- Do you avoid group conversations?
General screening test:
A doctor may ask the patient to cover one ear and describe how well he hears words were spoken at different volumes, as well as check for sensitivity to other sounds.
If the doctor suspects a hearing problem, he will likely be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or an audiologist.
A tuning fork test: This is also known as the Rinne test. A tuning fork is a two-claw metal instrument that produces a sound when struck. Simple tuning fork tests can help the doctor detect if there is hearing loss and where the problem is.
A tuning fork vibrates and is placed against the mastoid bone behind the ear. The patient is asked to indicate when he no longer hears any sound. The fork, which is still vibrating, is then placed 1 to 2 centimeters (cm) from the ear canal. The patient is asked again if he hears the fork.
Since air conduction is superior to bone conduction, the patient must be able to hear the vibration. If they can't hear it at this point, it means their bone conduction is greater than their air conduction.
This suggests a problem with the sound waves reaching the cochlea through the ear canal.
Audiometer test: The patient is wearing headphones and the sounds are directed to one ear at a time. A range of sounds is presented to the patient in different tones. The patient should signal whenever a sound is heard.
Each tone is presented at different volumes, so the audiologist can determine how well the sound at that tone is no longer being detected. The same test is done with words. The audiologist presents words at different tones and decibel levels to determine where the ability to hear stops.
Bone Oscillator Test: It is used to find out how far vibrations pass through the ossicles. A bone oscillator is placed against the mastoid. The goal is to assess the function of the nerve that transmits these signals to the brain.
Systematic screening of children:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children have their hearing tests done at the following times:
- when they start school
- at 6, 8, and 10 years old
- at least once when they are in college
- once in high school
The otoacoustic emissions test (OAE) involves inserting a small probe into the outer ear; this is usually done while the baby is sleeping. The probe emits sounds and checks for "echo" sounds bouncing from the ear.
If there is no echo, the baby doesn't necessarily have a hearing problem, but doctors will need to do more tests to make sure and find out why
If you have hearing problems, help is available. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss.
The options include:
- Removal of wax blockage: Blockage of earwax is a reversible cause of hearing loss. Your doctor can remove earwax using suction or a small tool with a loop on the end.
- Surgical interventions: Some types of hearing loss can be treated with surgery, including abnormalities of the eardrum or hearing bones (ossicles). If you've had repeated infections with persistent fluid, your doctor may insert small tubes that help your ears drain.
- Hearing aids: If your hearing loss is due to damage to your inner ear, a hearing aid may be helpful. An audiologist can discuss the potential benefits of a hearing aid with you and equip you with a device. Open fit aids are currently the most popular, due to the fit and functionality offered.
- Cochlear implants: If you have more severe hearing loss and get limited benefit from conventional hearing aids, a cochlear implant may be an option. Unlike a hearing aid that amplifies sound and directs it into your ear canal, a cochlear implant bypasses damaged or non-functioning parts of your inner ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve. An audiologist, as well as a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) disorders, can discuss the risks and benefits.
Not all cases of hearing loss are preventable. However, there are several steps you can take to protect your hearing:
- Use safety equipment if you work in very noisy areas and wear earplugs when swimming and going to concerts. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that 15 percent of people between the ages of 20 and 69 have experienced hearing loss due to loud noise.
- Get regular hearing tests if you work with loud noises, swim often, or attend concerts regularly.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to loud noises and music.
- Get help for ear infections. They can cause permanent damage to the ear if left untreated.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss
- Mixed hearing loss
The good news is that mild hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids. With hearing aids, people with mild hearing loss will be able to hear these soft sounds. Hearing aids will also help them understand speech better when there are competing signals.
Certain illnesses can cause hearing loss, including meningitis, mumps, cytomegalovirus, and chickenpox. Severe cases of jaundice can also lead to hearing loss. Ménière's disease and exposure to certain chemicals are other causes of deafness.
Paranoia - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0959354309104158
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