Hearing loss not only affect our ability to hear, but also to connect with the world around us. Hearing loss can negatively affect our communication, personal relationship, access to education, and work opportunity. But when hearing loss is properly managed, many individuals can go back to their normal daily activity and it also improves their quality of life.
Hearing loss occurs for many different reasons, including:
- Aging (presbycusis)
- Noise exposure
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Head injuries
- Heart conditions and stroke
- Genetic disorders
- Disorders of the inner ear, such as Meniere’s disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain medicines (ototoxic)
- A build-up of ear wax
- Maternal infection during pregnancy
- Structural malformation of the ear
TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
There are three types of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, Conductive hearing loss, and Mixed hearing loss.
SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS
Typically, a permanent hearing loss due to a disease, trauma or inherited conditions affecting the nerve cells in the cochlea, the inner ear or the eight cranial nerve. Most of the time, medicine and surgery cannot fix this type of hearing loss but hearing aid may help you improve your hearing.
CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS
A temporary or permanent hearing loss typically due to abnormal conditions of the external and/or middle ear. The cause of conductive hearing loss can be identified and treated that can partially or completely improve hearing.
MIXED HEARING LOSS
A combination of sensorineural and conductive type of hearing loss. This mean that there is damage to both the outer and inner ear.
DEGREE OF HEARING LOSS
Per World Health Organization (WHO), a normal hearing threshold is someone who can hear all frequency from 0-25dB.
A person with mild hearing loss may hear most of the speech sound but might find it difficult to hear the soft sound especially in the presence of background noise.
A person with moderate hearing loss may find it difficult to understand speech sound talking at a normal conversational level.
A person with severe hearing loss may find it difficult to hear speech sound even in a shouted voice.
PROFOUND (81dB and up)
A person with profound hearing loss typically cannot hear any speech or environmental sound even at the loudest level.
MANAGEMENT OF HEARING LOSS
Management of hearing loss depends on the type and severity of hearing loss.
Removing ear wax- Ear wax blockage is a reversible cause of hearing loss. Once the wax is removed it can improve your hearing.
Medication- Some hearing loss is caused by viral or bacterial infection that can really affect the degree of your hearing. Doctor will prescribe appropriate medication to cure the infection that will help improve or even normalize your hearing.
Surgery- Some types of hearing loss can be treated with surgery, including abnormalities with the eardrum, or repeated middle ear infections.
Hearing Aids- Most permanent hearing loss cannot be fixed by medication or surgeries. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, hearing aids can be helpful. Hearing aids can reduce the impact of hearing loss on daily activity and can greatly improve the quality of life.
Cochlear Implants- If you have a more severe hearing loss and gain limited benefit with hearing aids then a cochlear implant may be an option. Unlike hearing aids amplifies sounds and sends the amplified sound into your ear canal, cochlear implants send electrical signals directly to the hearing nerve.