Damage to any part of the ear results in hearing loss / impairment.
- Causes for Hearing Loss: There are two types of hearing loss. (i) Conductive: This involves damage to the outer or middle ear which in turn can happen due to structural problems, infections etc. These are amenable to medication or surgery. (ii) Sensorineural: This results from damage to the inner ear or cochlea or auditory nerve and is much more difficult to treat as it is permanent and can only be corrected by the use of hearing aid.
Hearing impairment can be unilateral or bilateral, partial or total (present since birth or acquired later in life). It can also occur as a result of middle ear infections, trauma to the eardrum by ear buds or sharp objects introduced in to the ear canal, illness, and medication like chemotherapy drugs.
- Exposure to loud noise especially over prolonged periods can cause damage to the hair cells of the inner ear or even the auditory nerve, which is responsible for connecting the ear to the brain. The intensity of sound is measured in decibels. Any sound above 80 decibels is considered hazardous. This can come from loud music, other appliances and machines.
- Symptoms: (i) When speech is unclear or mumbling. (ii) You have to ask people to repeat what they are saying. (iii) People complain that you listen to music or TV very loudly. & (iv) You are unable to hear the telephone or door bell.
- Impacts: Hearing loss can compromise social development, friendships, relationships, communication skills, education and career opportunities. However, technological advancements, cued speech, lip reading, sign languages and computer assisted speech has helped our ear-impaired persons.
- Treatments: This depends on the cause of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be overcome by removing wax, using hearing aids, cochlear transplant & speech therapy. Wear protective ear-plugs if exposed to loud noise.
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