While some people are born with hearing problems, the majority of people with hearing impairment lose their hearing slowly and gradually. In these cases, the gradual change often leads to the problem becoming worse slowly and over time, to the extent that such wakes up one day and realizes hearing is lost. First thing to do is to consult with the doctor by doing basic tests to determine the extent of the problem and advise on the next steps based on the condition. If someone one knows is suffering from hearing loss, unless it happens to one personally or one is suffering from same condition, it is very difficult to understand the emotional components of the hearing loss experience. These emotions may include fear, embarrassment, frustration, tension, or even fatigue. Not being able to always understand normal conversation, and having to ask people to constantly repeat themselves, can prove to be quite frustrating.
1. SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS
Sensorineural hearing loss or Nerve deafness is one type of hearing loss that affects the inner ear or the acoustic or vestibulocochlear nerve or both. This happens when the hair cells which transmit sound to the brain is damaged and could not function properly. Most of the time, it is friends and family members that notice the symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss as the sufferer may not be aware of his/her condition. The symptoms include inability to hear high tones, the need to ask to repeat certain words, loud TV and radio volume, physical and social activities can also be affected which could lead to irritability, moodiness and depression.
To diagnose sensorineural hearing, there is need to consult the doctor and tests will include CT scan, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and EEG that evaluate activity in the brain. The usual cause of sensorineural loss includes head or ear injury caused by physical trauma, medication side effects specifically from ototoxic medicines, ear infection, Presbycusis or the gradual loss of hearing due to old age, tumors, and hereditary. Other less known cause is anemia, heart problems and lupus or any condition that reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain. For sensorineural treatment, hearing aids and cochlear implants are frequently use. Hearing aid is a small electronic device that is put behind the ear. Hearing aid components include tiny microphones, which gather sound and convert it to electrical impulses, amplifier that increases the strength of these impulses and battery for energy supply. Another treatment available is cochlear implant this a small complex electronic device implanted behind the ear, this device directly stimulate the auditory nerves. This type of treatment requires the patient to have surgical procedure and therapy.
There are natural remedies for sensorineural hearing loss most of these natural treatments such as proper diet or nutritional therapy. One reason of sensorineural hearing loss is recurring viral or bacterial infections. This could be cause by weak immune system and bad hygiene. To strengthen the immune system take vitamin c, zinc is used to cure ear infections. Another way to prevent ear problem is to eat nutritional supplements like vitamin B-complex, iron and calcium as these supplements reduce the risk ear infection. Studies as well show that food rich in Vitamin A and folic acid also delays hearing loss. Popular Herbs such as Echinacea, which can strengthen the immune system and goldenseal or yellow root, which stimulates the secretion and flow of bile, it is also used against variety of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, such as E. Coli and Candida which can cause ear infections, Chinese herbal therapy is also generally accepted in treating ear infections. Another widely used is garlic juice, which is a powerful and natural antiseptic herb.
2. CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS
Conductive hearing loss is a type of hearing issue resulting from problems within mobile portions in the ear. These are the movable pieces (the eardrum) which send out noise externally to the inner ear in which our central nervous system gets control and sends impulses to the human brain. Conductive hearing loss happens any time such movable components are injured as well as any time their flexibility is impaired. Conductive hearing loss is common in kids. Hearing devices will help. One major cause for this deficit in hearing is the collection of wax inside the ears. Every single individual will surely have wax collection. There are several individuals who have excessive wax productions within the ears or who might not be washing their ears at frequent times. When the wax amount within the ears goes past the amount it’s supposed to be, the ear canal gets clogged which can finally result in the individual to be affected by hearing problems. If it is created due to wax build up, it is a relatively easy to fix when the wax is entirely washed and eliminated, hearing is restored.
Another cause is trauma. There is a structure within the ear called the tympanic membrane. It is a structure that helps transmit sound which is a hypersensitive organ and can be easily impaired. This tends to get injured if there is an explosive sound close to the ears. Another situation once the tympanic membrane is injured or when another person meddles with the internals within the ears and attempts to get rid of the wax. Once the injury to the ear is due to trauma and when the tympanic membrane is punctured totally, it’s not at all possible to correct the problem.
3. SUDDEN HEARING LOSS
Sudden hearing loss is as the term implies the sudden loss of hearing ability. It happens when there is a hearing reduction of over 30dE and can take place in more or less than 72 hours. Also, hearing loss can happen suddenly when there is problem at one point in the hearing pathway thereby interfering with the transmission of sound. It can happen only in one ear usually called unilateral hear loss. In Sensorineural hearing loss, the root causative factor traces to the inner ear, or the vestibulocochlear nerve or the auditory centers of the brain by itself. Vestibulocochlear nerve is also called as the acoustic nerve, and it is the eighth Cranial nerve (Of the twelve). This nerve functions in maintaining equilibrium, and carrying sound signals, transmitting these from the inner ear to the auditory cortex in the brain. The vestibulocochlear nerve, in conjoint function with hair cells transmits sound information to the brain. Hair cells are sensory receptor cells of the auditory system. Any damage to these also causes decreased sensitivity to hearing. Thus, the defect may depend on abnormalities or damage to the cranial nerve, or the hair cells. Hearing impairment is also caused when there is an abnormality in the central auditory system of the brain. The problem with hearing loss is very difficult, not to mention the psychological pain the patients undergo. To most people, they might only know very little as to what causes sudden hearing loss.
Some of the problems that could have led to the sudden hearing loss are:
- Infection affecting the ear leading to the occurrence of a hearing loss
- An accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum which can lead to the sudden loss of hearing ability.
- In the event of an injury on the head such as a fractured skull which can lead to even permanent loss of hearing ability.
Curbing the problem of noise pollution which is that situations where noise can lead to losing hearing sense, having been exposed to excessively high noise such as fireworks or nearby explosions. In surgeries involving the ear, some of the risks involved might be that one loses the ability to hear leading to occurrence of sudden hearing loss.
Line of treatment for sensorineural hearing loss features use of hearing aid or cochlear implants. Hearing aid is a small electronic device that is fit into the ear. The device amplifies the sound exposed to and transmits to the ear. Cochlear implant is a surgical procedure. The implant is placed behind the ear. It receives the sound signal, amplifies it and transmits to directly stimulate the cochlear nerve.
4. HEARING LOSS IN ONE EAR
Hearing loss on one side occurs when there is difficulty in hearing or deafness that affects only one of the ears. This may lead to problems understanding speech in crowded environments, locating the source of a sound, and tuning out background noise. This condition is also called unilateral hearing loss or unilateral deafness. It may be described as deafness in one ear or on one side, hearing loss in one ear, or inability to hear from one ear, but one should still be able to hear clearly with the other ear.
- Hearing loss caused by wax buildup can be treated by the doctor in a clinical setting.
- Hearing loss in one ear may sometimes be the result of prescription medications.
- It may also be a natural outcome of aging.
- Injury to the ear
- Exposure to loud noises or certain drugs
- Always contact doctor if one experiences hearing loss in one ear.
- Depending on the cause of the hearing loss, the doctor might recommend medications, surgery, or a hearing aid.
- In some cases, the condition will go away without treatment.
- During visit to the doctor, there will be review of the symptoms and medical history, and conduct a physical examination of the ear, nose, and throat. The doctor may also order a hearing test. During this test, the specialist (audiologist) will measure how one responds to a range of sounds and tones at various volume levels. These tests can help the doctor determine which part of the ear is affected, which can provide clues as to the underlying cause of the hearing loss.
- Depending on the cause of the hear loss condition, some might be irreversible in which the doctor may recommend a hearing aid to help improve hearing. Other treatments are surgery to repair the ear or remove a tumor, antibiotics to treat infection, steroids to reduce inflammation and swelling, stopping use of the medication that may be causing the hearing loss.
5. TYPES OF HEARING LOSS TEST
This test will be able to detect two types of hearing loss: unilateral conductive hearing loss and unilateral sensorineural type. The Weber Test makes use of a tuning fork. The fork is struck on a surface to produce vibrations. It will then be placed on top of the media lateral of the skull. A person is said to have a unilateral conductive hearing loss if one ear hears the sound louder than the other. The ear that hears the louder sound is the affected one.
Just like the Weber test, the Rinne Test also uses a tuning fork. The Rinne Test compares how sound is perceived as conducted through the mastoid. A tuning fork is struck to produce vibrations. The fork stem is then stuck on the mastoid of a person. When no sound can already be heard, the fork is then placed outside the ear.
Audiometry is the formal testing of a person’s hearing ability. With the help of an audiometer, the hearing level of a person may be measured. It may measure the ability of a person to differentiate between different intensities of sound, distinguish speech from background sounds, or recognize pitch. In audiometry, otoacoustic emissions as well as acoustic reflex can also be measured. Results from audiometry testing can be used to diagnose whether the subject has hearing loss or other problems with the ear. Audiometry testing needs a special soundproof room. It also does not make use of tuning forks. Instead, it uses a device called the audiometer.
Tympanometry is a test usually used to detect conductive hearing loss. This procedure makes use of an otoscope. This makes sure that nothing; neither foreign object nor earwax is blocking the path to the eardrum. It is considered as a foolproof method if ever the findings from the other tests produce suspiciously inaccurate or anomalous results, and further tests are needed for deeper hearing level assessment. Tympanometry targets the eardrum’s mobility, conduction of bones, and the condition of the middle ear.