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Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the loss of hearing in one or both ears, ranging from mild to profound. There are many causes and anything affecting the process of hearing can cause the loss of hearing ability, and it can affect anyone at any age, but it's most common among people older than 60.

    How do we Hear?

    The ear is a sensitive organ which helps us hear the world around us and connect with people.

The Ear Consists Of 3 Parts

Outer Ear :- The Pinna and the Ear canal make up the Outer Ear which catches the sound waves from the surroundings and transfers them to the Tympanic membrane.

Middle Ear :- The Tympanic membrane and the Middle ear bones make up the Middle ear which works to transfer the vibrations received at the Tympanic membrane to the Inner ear.

Inner Ear :- This is the sensory part of the ear, where the vibrations reach from the Middle ear bones through a small window. This causes the fluid in the Inner ear to be set in motion. This movement of the fluid causes the sensory haids cells (Outer and Inner Haids Cells) of the Inner ear to be excited and produce electrical signals. These signals are picked up by the Auditory nerve which transfers the data to the Brain for final comprehension of the sound heard.

Causes of Hearing loss

The causes of hearing loss are many and differ for a different age group and type of hearing loss

Hearing loss at birth – Congenital hearing loss i.e., hearing loss which is present at birth can have multiple causes like infections, trauma, genetics, other medical factors during pregnancy, etc. These can occur during pregnancy, at birth or after birth in the first few days of infant life.

Hearing loss after birth – Acquired hearing loss i.e., hearing loss which occurs after birth can have multiple causes like infections of the middle ear, physical/Acoustic trauma to the ears, ototoxic medications for treatment of certain diseases, etc. and can occur at any stage of life.

Hearing loss due to ageing – Presbycusis is the name of the process of slow degradation of hearing ability of an individual with age. This is the most common cause of hearing loss.

Hearing loss due to Noise exposure – Noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in the current scenario of loud factory work, excessive loud earphone usage, traffic noise, etc.

Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be divided into 3 main types:

Conductive hearing loss – Is a type of hearing loss whenever there is any anomaly in the Outer and/or Middle ear. E.g., Middle ear infection (Otitis media), Eardrum perforation, etc.

Sensorineural hearing loss – Is a type of hearing loss whenever there is any anomaly in the Cochlea and/or Auditory nerve. E.g., Hearing loss due to ageing (Presbycusis), Auditory Nerve Spectrum Disorder, etc.

Mixed Hearing loss – Is a type of hearing loss whenever there are multiple anomalies with one from each type of hearing loss. E.g., A middle ear infection in a patient of age-related hearing loss.

Impacts of Hearing loss

As people move through the activities of daily living; at home, at work, and in social or business situations, basic auditory abilities take on functional significance.

Audition makes it possible to detect and recognize meaningful environmental sounds, to identify the source and location of a sound, and, most importantly, to perceive and understand spoken language.

The ability of an individual to carry out auditory tasks in the real world isinfluenced not only by his or her hearing abilities, but also by a multitude of situational factors, such as background noise, competing signals, room acoustics, and familiarity with the situation.

Such factors are important regardless of whether one has a hearing loss, but the effects are magnified when hearing is impaired.

Untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences. A decrease in hearing sensitivity is associated with

Untreated Hearing loss puts the elderly population at risk of developing Dementia, with studies finding that the risk increases with the increasing degrees of hearing loss.

When you are listening to someone speak your brain is processing the sound so that you can understand it. A listener with untreated hearing loss is trying to understand degraded speech signals. Therefore, their brain must work harder to process those sounds. While your brain is busy working to understand incoming speech signals other tasks like memory and comprehension can suffer.

Fortunately, hearing aids could help by increasing the intensity if the sounds received by the ears and thus, help tremendously uplifting the communication capabilities of an individual with hearing loss. They also help

  • Reduce Mental fatigue.
  • Decrease feelings of social isolation and depression.
  • Improve ability to do several things at once.
  • Improve memory, attention, and focus, etc.

Hearing care professionals often work in tandem with other medical professionals.

If you or someone you love is experiencing cognitive or emotional problems schedule a physical exam with your doctor as well as a hearing evaluation with your hearing care professional. Hearing aids can lessen mental fatigue and feelings of isolation.

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