Disclaimer: This webpage is for information purpose only and is neither intended to be used as self-diagnostic tool nor to be considered in place of a qualified doctor's diagnosis/advise. Each patient's case is unique and treatment will depend on your physician's discretion.
The ear is the organ of hearing and balance in human being. It consists of three parts: external ear, middle ear, and inner ear. All of these parts play a crucial role in hearing and balance. Hearing loss can affect anyone, and at any point during a person’s life. It affects different people to varying degrees and for different reasons, and can be triggered by any number of environmental and biological factors.
Important function of hearing are:
Motor and reflex effects: position of the eyes and head, maintaining balance.
Sensory effects: position or movement of the head.
Sensorial effects: perception of sound
Effects on higher functions: thoughts, memory, language, emotions
Effects on state of consciousness and vigilance.
Because the loss typically develops gradually, you may not notice the loss of subtle everyday sounds such as a ticking clock or a rustling newspaper. Before you realize it, you are missing sounds critical to effective communication.
TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
Hearing loss is generally categorized by location—that is, what part of the ear is damaged—as well as by severity and age of onset. There are three main types of loss: conductive, sensorineural, and a combination of both, known as mixed hearing loss.
Person with hearing problem may experience symptoms such as;
Muffling of speech and other sounds
Tinnitus, which often describes as ringing sound in the ear or buzzing sound
Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly or loudly
Needing to increase the volume of TV or radio
Avoidance of some social settings
Complaint of irritation by loud sound
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss results from sound waves being conducted through the outer and/or middle ear inefficiently. Sound waves are blocked or muffled before they can reach the inner ear, which is still functioning properly. Conductive hearing loss can frequently be treated with medication or surgery. Conductive hearing loss in adults is much less common and much more common in children.
Some Possible causes are:
Impacted ear wax
Infection in the ear canalinnerear
Fluid in the middle ear
Poor Eustachian tube function
Perforated ear drum
Presence of foreign body
Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the nerve pathways that transmit sound information to the brain. The normal aging process and exposure to loud noise can lead to sensorineural loss. Generally, sensorineural loss cannot be reversed and is not treatable with surgery or medication – but IT CAN BE SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED THROUGH THE USE OF HEARING AIDS.
Some possible causes are:
Exposure to loud sound
Malformation of inner ear
Illness such as typhoid fever, jaundice, dengue fever, malaria etc;
Consumption of oto-toxic drugs
Prolonged exposure to loud noise and chemicals.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is generally considered a form of or a sub-category of sensorineural loss. This is one of the most common types of loss, and, fortunately, it is also the most preventable. Onset is gradual, painless, and frequently undetectable until significant hearing loss has occurred.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is the combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which can involve damage in the outer, middle, and inner ear simultaneously.
Some of the basic assessment testes are:
Pure tone Audiometry
Behavioral observation audiometry
Conditioned play audiometry
Special tests to rule out cochlear or retro-cochlear pathology
Oto acoustic emission
Living with untreated loss means difficulties in conversations with loved ones, at social gatherings, and work settings. Untreated, hearing loss makes it challenging to keep up with everyday life. Treatment can lead to a better quality of life by improving personal relationships, reducing anger and frustration, and providing better control of one’s life.
What are the treatment options other than surgery to rectify hearing loss?
Digital hearing aids
Assistive listening devices/ digital wireless accessories.