Hearing Loss is a very common ailment. Yet, people delay visiting the Audiologist or the ENT Doctor. Delay in Hearing Loss treatment can cause long-term damage. In Children, untreated Hearing loss affects the education. In youth, untreated Hearing loss results in loss of self-esteem and job opportunities. Among the working professionals, untreated Hearing Loss can harm their career. Inability to take part in family discussions leads to depression in Senior citizens. Use these tips to convince elders to use Hearing aids in case they are reluctant.
Types of Hearing Loss
Before we discuss the Hearing Loss treatment. We should be familiar with the types of Hearing Loss. There are 3 types of Hearing Loss.
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of Loss relates to the Sensory- Neural parts of the hearing system. Sensory parts are organs which sense sound waves. Neural parts are the nerves which carry the sound signal to our Brain. Any damage to these parts results in Sensorineural Hearing Loss.
2. Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of loss relates to the parts of the ear which conduct sound. The Outer Ear and the Middle Ear form part of the conductive system. Any physical damage or deformity in this area causes Conductive Hearing Loss.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss
Defects in the Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing system causes Mixed Hearing Loss. Both types of Hearing loss contribute to the total Hearing loss.
4. Sudden Hearing Loss
Some people also get Sudden Hearing Loss. Some of the reasons for Sudden Hearing loss are exposure to a loud sound. More like a sudden explosion or a loud blast. Ototoxicity, or Ear Infections. People affected by Sudden Hearing Loss should rush to the Hospital. Timely medical help can save the Hearing.
How to Detect Hearing Loss?
In a majority of the cases Hearing Loss is due to advancing age or due to constant exposure to loud sounds. This type of Hearing Loss is not sudden and affects us very gradually.
Hearing Loss increases very gradually. Initially, the affected person is in denial and refuses to accept. The tendency of people suffering from Hearing loss is to blame others or blame the situation. “Why are you mumbling?” and “why can’t you speak clearly and loudly?” are some of the common complaints we hear from elders.
There are many signs which show that the person is suffering from Hearing Loss. Some of the signs are as follows:
Tips To Detect Hearing Loss
- The first sign is missing out on some words in a group conversation at home or in the office.
- Missing out on words if the surroundings are noisy. It is common in places like noisy restaurants or public places.
- Requesting others to repeat themselves.
- Keeping the Television volume very loud.
- You feel others are mumbling or not speaking clearly
- Unable to hear properly on the phone.
- Need to look at the person to hear well. A little bit of lip reading helps in understanding.
- The person feels exhausted after a lengthy conversation. This happens because the person tires due to more strain.
- The affected person avoids social functions. Due to the inability to converse in the group.
Hearing Loss can be due to Earache, ear discharge, blocked ears or sudden ear pressure. These symptoms are signs of temporary Hearing loss.
Confirmation of Hearing Loss.
Please note that the above tips show that the person might be suffering from Hearing loss. You should fix an appointment with the Audiologist or the Hearing Care Professional. The Audiologist will start with checking the ears with the Otoscope. The physical check will ensure that there is no earwax in the ears.
The next step is the Audiological tests. The Audiologist might conduct any of the following Hearing Tests.
OAE or Oto Acoustic Emission Test
This is a quick test which checks hearing up to the Inner Ear Hair Cells.
Pure Tone Audiometry Test
This test measures the level or severity of Hearing loss.
This test checks the functioning of the Middle Ear
ABR or Auditory Brainstem Response
This test is for babies. The test measures the Brains response to the tones and clicks presented to the ears.
Hearing Loss Treatment
The ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor and the Audiologist will study the reports. The reports will determine the intensity or severity and the type of Hearing Loss. The line of treatment will depend on the type of hearing loss.
Treatment for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Age or accidents can cause weakness in the nerves or damage to the delicate Hair Cells in the Cochlea. This is a major cause of Sensorineural Hearing Loss. This type of Hearing loss is mostly permanent. Doctors do prescribe vitamin supplements, corticosteroids and drug therapy. To date, there is no direct cure for Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Research on Hair Cell Regeneration and Stem Cell Therapy is at an advanced stage. We will have a cure very shortly.
Currently, the recommended remedy for Sensorineural Hearing loss is use of Digital Hearing Devices.
Treatment for Conductive Hearing Loss
In a majority of the cases Conductive Hearing Loss is curable. Unless the damage to the Outer Ear or the Middle is severe.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
The following reasons can cause Conductive Hearing loss.
Cleaning the Ears can rectify the situation. Find out how to clean earwax at home.
Foreign Body Obstruction
This happens in the case of children. At times they insert beads or small play items in the ear. Removing them can restore hearing.
Bacterial or Fungal infection can take place. Keep your ears clean to prevent infection. Consult the doctor who will prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.
Abnormal growth in the Ear
Sometimes there is abnormal bone growth. This growth reduces the size of the ear canal. The problem can be surgically corrected.
Eardrum can rupture due to a build-up of pressure in the middle ear or due to an external injury.
In most of the above cases, Hearing Loss is reversible with proper treatment.
Treatment for Mixed Hearing Loss
A Mixed hearing loss is a combination of Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss. Normally the Doctor will first start with the treatment of Conductive Hearing Loss. This will bring some relief to the patient.
Currently available treatment of Sensorineural Hearing loss cannot reverse hearing loss. Field trials are at an advanced stage and a cure will be available very soon.