Hearing loss


Ear Nose | Otorhinolaryngology | Hearing loss (Disease)


Description

A condition characterized by a loss of hearing that makes it impossible for an individual to understand speech through hearing alone. Or it can be defines as an inability to perceive the normal range of sounds audible to an individual with normal hearing.

There are two different types of hearing impairments, conductive hearing impairment and sensorineural hearing impairment. A third type is a combination of the two called mixed hearing loss. Hearing impairments are categorized by their type - conductive, sensorineural or both, by their severity, and by the age of onset. Furthermore, a hearing impairment may exist in only one ear (unilateral) or in both ears (bilateral).

A conductive hearing impairment is present when the sound is not reaching the inner ear, the cochlea. This can be due to external ear canal malformation, dysfunction of the eardrum or malfunction of the bones of the middle ear.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the two types. Chronic ear infection that is a fairly common diagnosis could result in a defect ear drum and/or middle ear ossicle damages.

Causes and Risk factors

Hearing loss, or deafness, can be present at birth (congenital), or become evident later in life (acquired). The distinction between acquired and congenital deafness specifies only the time that the deafness appears.

A sensorineural hearing loss is one resulting from dysfunction of the inner ear, the cochlea, the nerve that transmits the impulses from the cochlea to the hearing centre in the brain or damage in the brain. The most common reason for sensorineural hearing impairment is damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. As we grow older the hair cells degenerate and lose their function, and our hearing deteriorates.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Several options are available for hearing loss, ranging from medical treatment to listening devices, such as hearing aids. Treatment depends of the cause and severity of hearing loss. For age-related hearing loss, there is no cure, but hearing aids and other listening devices help treat the problem and improve quality of life.

Medical treatment, including medications and surgery, is recommended for many types of hearing problems, particularly conductive hearing loss. However, even if medical treatment is not necessary for your type of hearing loss, we highly recommend a visit to an audiologist for both a definite diagnosis of the type of hearing loss and treatment advice. ...