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Hearing Problems, Aids & Solutions

31 January 2023

4 minute read

Hearing Problem, Aids & Solution

World Hearing Day is held on 3rd March every year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. Ear and hearing problems are among the most common problems encountered in the community as good hearing and communication are important at all stages of life.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that up to 1.5 billion people live with hearing loss. A person is said to have hearing loss if they are not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing.

There are 3 types of hearing loss:

 

Conductive

  • Caused by a problem in the outer ear or middle ear.
  • Usually affects all frequencies to the same degree and is considered not severe.

Sensorineural

  • Caused by a problem in the inner ear or auditory nerve.
  • Sounds may appear distorted even with the use of a hearing aid.

Mixed

  • A combination of conductive and sensorineural losses.

Hearing loss is clarified into mild, moderate, sever and profound. It can affect one or both ears

Category of Deafness
Degree of Loss (Decibel)
Effect on Hearing
Mild
25 – 40
Difficulty in hearing in a noisy environment
Moderate
41 – 50
Inability to hear whisper
Secere
61 – 80
Inability to understand soft, moderate and loud speech
Profound
> 81
Unable to understand even very loud speech

Cause of Hearing Loss

Congenital (From Birth)
Acquired
Genetic (Family History)
– Low birth weight
– Infection as Rubella or Syphilis
– Severe lack of oxygen to the brain at birth, infection of the brain (meningitis)
– Outer ear conditions (wax/infection)
– Middle ear conditions (otitis media)
– Inner ear conditions – viral infection of the cochlear nerve/tumour
– Drugs (ototoxic drugs) which are toxic to the ears in seeking treatment for other ailments such as cancer and tuberculosis
– Exposure to loud noises – can occur suddenly or from occupational exposure
– Chronic metabolic conditions such as diabetes mellitus, cholesterol and hypertension
– Old age related hearing loss

Signs of Hearing Loss

Children
Adult
– Not responding to calls
– Difficulty in hearing in a noise environment
– Only loud sounds
– Difficulty in communications with family and friends
– Delayed speech
– Needs repetitive questioning

Complications of deafness

  • Communication difficulty
  • Social embarrassment
  • Low esteem
  • Sense of isolation, frustration and loss of confidence
  • Difficulty in Learning

How to detect early hearing loss?

It is possible to measure hearing in babies as early as before one month of age. Hearing assessment should be done when hearing loss is suspected by your healthcare provider.

How is hearing loss managed?

The role of an Audiologist is indispensable to detect the type of hearing loss using various methods of screening tests.

Children with congenital/early onset hearing loss should be enrolled into an early intervention programme as soon as possible to facilitate their language and cognitive development. Various communication options are available and will be facilitated by an Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist.

The management of hearing loss depends on the type of hearing loss.

 

Conductive hearing loss

Most conductive hearing loss can be treated using medical or surgical treatment. Eg:

  • Impacted wax – removal of wax
  • Infection of the middle ear – medication or sometimes surgery
  • Otosclerosis – ear surgery
  • Hearing aids once medical/surgical treatment is complete and to improve the patient’s residual hearing

Sensorineural hearing loss

  • Most sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be cured by medical or surgical treatment
  • Management of sensorineural hearing loss include:
    • Hearing amplification
    • Through usage of properly fitted hearing aids
    • Cochlear implant may be indicated to those with severe hearing loss and those that do not benefit from hearing aids.

Mixed Hearing Loss

  • A conservative approach but may include hearing amplification

Children with congenital/early onset hearing loss should be enrolled into an early intervention programme as early as possible to facilitate their language and cognitive development. Various communication options are available and will be facilitated by an Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist.

How to prevent hearing loss?

About 50% of cases with hearing loss can be prevented. It is also important to screen new-borns for high risk hearing loss as timely intervention and appropriate care can be sought out.

We recommend:

  • Getting ear examinations and hearing checks regularly.
  • Hearing screening for newborns.
  • Turn down the volume on personal listening devices such as headphones and earbuds.
  • Avoid loud noises whenever possible.
  • Give your ears a rest and take periodic breaks from noise.
  • Use hearing protection such as earplugs or noise-cancelling earmuffs.
  • Avoid ototoxic drugs.
  • Wear hearing protectors at high risk noise exposure environments.
  • Limit the exposure time to noise such as loud music.
  • Get ear examinations and hearing checks regularly.

This article first appeared in Natural Health, 31 January 2023.

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31 January 2023

4 minute read

Hearing Problem, Aids & Solution

Dr. Indirani A/p Batumalay

Ear Nose And Throat

Learn more about Ear Nose And Throat in Columbia Asia

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