How Do Hearing Impair and How Can Hearing Aids Help

Difficulty in hearing is a not so uncommon problem that we all need to know more about. It can affect us at any age from birth till old age and good news is that it is a totally treatable condition.

Whatever maybe the cause and severity of deafness, modern medicine and technology can restore our hearing back to normal.

How common is deafness?

1 in 12 that is 8% of the population has some degree of deafness. 1 in 1000 children are born with significant deafness that does not allow normal development of hearing and speech. If untreated, these children grow up into deaf and consequently dumb adults. It is very important to diagnose and treat these children early, within the first few years.

What is the cause of deafness?

Genetic: Typically, children born with deafness. This is more common in parents who have had consanquineous marriage but can happen otherwise as well. People with family history of hearing loss can suffer from hearing loss in adulthood due to an inherited condition, which affects the tiny bones inside your ear.

Acquired: Infection can cause damage to ear drums, or inner ear resulting in temporary or permanent damage to hearing. Trauma such as major road traffic accidents can fracture the hearing organs. Serious infections like meningitis can cause permanent loss of hearing.

Old Age: Over the age of 65, many people suffer from hearing loss typically involving high frequency sounds. This is not due to any illness but a weakness that sets in with age much like use of spectacles for reading at old age.

How does on diagnose deafness?

In adults and older children, we do a simple hearing test called Pure Tone Audiometry. This involves playing sounds of different frequencies at varying levels and identifying the minimum level at which one could detect the sound at the specific frequency being tested. This is a very accurate and reliable test in most situations.

In new born babies and small children, we can do a test called Oto acoustic emissions (OAE) which involves detection of very weak emissions coming from the normal ear using a probe inside the ear canal. If normal, this test usually rules out any hearing loss in the child.

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