Adapting to Hearing Loss

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They acquired spoken language before their hearing was diminished. A medication side effect, trauma, infection, or disease may have caused losing their sense of hearing. Household members, friends, and teachers may have noticed a problem before they acknowledged the disability. Depending on the severity of hearing loss, the individual may have had to use hearing aids, receive a cochlear implant, or learn how to lip-read. People who experience hearing loss face different challenges, depending on when it occurs and how long it takes to develop. They might have to become familiar with new equipment, undergo surgery, learn sign language and lip reading, and use various communication devices.

A feeling of isolation is a common problem, which can sometimes lead to depression and loneliness. A person with post-lingual hearing loss also has to face the often-distressing process of coming to terms with a disability. The condition may also pose challenges for household members, loved ones, and close friends, who have to adapt to the hearing loss. Miscommunication can place a strain on relationships, not only for the person with the hearing impairment, but also the people around them. If the hearing loss is gradual and has not yet been diagnosed, family members may mistakenly believe that the individual with the condition is becoming more distant.

Single-sided deafness SDD , or unilateral deafness, refers to hearing impairment in just one ear, while bilateral deafness is hearing impairment in both. People with a unilateral hearing impairment may find it hard to carry on a conversation if the other person is on their affected side. Pinpointing the source of a sound may be more difficult, when compared with those who can hear well in both ears.

Understanding what others are saying when there is a lot of environmental noise might be hard. With little to no background noise, a person with unilateral deafness has virtually the same communicative abilities as a person with functional hearing in both ears. Babies born with unilateral deafness tend to have developmental speech delays.

They may find it harder to concentrate when they go to school. Social activities may be more challenging than it is for children with no hearing problems. The symptoms of hearing impairment depend on its cause. Some people are born without being able to hear, while others suddenly become deaf due to an accident or illness.

For most people, symptoms of deafness progress gradually over time. Some conditions may have hearing loss as a symptom, such as tinnitus or stroke. Patients who suspect something is wrong with their hearing will initially go and see their doctor. The doctor will talk to the patient and ask several questions regarding the symptoms, including when they started, whether or not they have gotten worse, and whether the individual is feeling pain alongside the hearing loss.

The doctor will look into the ear using an otoscope. This is an instrument with a light at the end. The following may be detected during the examination:. If you answered "yes" to most of the above questions, see a doctor and have your hearing checked. A doctor may ask the patient to cover one ear and describe how well they hear words spoken at different volumes, as well as checking sensitivity to other sounds. If the doctor suspects a hearing problem, they will probably be referred to either an ear, nose, and throat ENT specialist or an audiologist. A tuning fork test: This is also known as the Rinne test.

A tuning fork is a metal instrument with two prongs that produces a sound when it is struck. Simple tuning fork tests may help the doctor detect whether there is any hearing loss, and where the problem is. A tuning fork is vibrated and placed against the mastoid bone behind the ear. The patient is asked to indicate when they no longer hear any sound.

The fork, which is still vibrating, is then placed 1 to 2 centimeters cm from the auditory canal. The patient is asked again whether they can hear the fork. As air conduction is greater than bone conduction, the patient should be able to hear the vibration. If they cannot hear it at this point, it means that their bone conduction is superior to their air conduction. Audiometer test: The patient wears earphones, and sounds are directed into one ear at a time.

A range of sounds is presented to the patient at various tones. The patient has to signal each time a sound is heard. Each tone is presented at various volumes, so that the audiologist can determine at which point the sound at that tone is no longer detected.

The same test is carried out with words. The audiologist presents words at various tones and decibel levels to determine where the ability to hear stops. Bone oscillator test: This is used to find out how well vibrations pass through the ossicles. A bone oscillator is placed against the mastoid. The aim is to gauge the function of the nerve that carries these signals to the brain. The otoacoustic emissions OAE test involves inserting a small probe into the outer ear; it is usually done while the baby is asleep.

The probe emits sounds and checks for "echo" sounds bouncing back from the ear. If there is no echo, the baby might not necessarily have a hearing problem, but doctors will need to carry out further tests to make sure and to find out why. Help is available for people with all types of hearing loss. Treatment depends on both the cause and severity of the deafness. Sensorineural hearing loss is incurable. When the hair cells in the cochlea are damaged, they cannot be repaired. However, various treatments and strategies can help improve quality of life. There are several types of hearing aid.

They come in a range of sizes, circuitries, and levels of power. Hearing aids do not cure deafness but amplify the sound that enters the ear so that the listener can hear more clearly. Hearing aids consist of a battery, loudspeaker, amplifier, and microphone. Today, they are very small, discreet, and can fit inside the ear. Many modern versions can distinguish background noise from foreground sounds, such as speech. The audiologist takes an impression of the ear to make sure the device fits well.

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  5. It will be adjusted to suit auditory requirements. Behind-the-ear BTE hearing aids: These consist of a dome called an earmold and a case, with a connection linking one to the other. The case sits behind the outer ear, with the connection to the dome coming down the front of the ear. The sound from the device is either electrically or acoustically routed to the ear. BTE hearing aids tend to last longer than other devices, as the electrical components are located outside the ear, meaning that there is less moisture and earwax damage These devices are more popular with children who need a sturdy and easy-to-use device.

    In-the-canal ITC hearing aids: These fill the outer part of the ear canal and can be seen. Soft ear inserts, usually made of silicone, are used to position the loudspeaker inside the ear. These devices fit most patients straight away and have better sound quality. Completely in the canal CIC hearing aids: These are tiny, discreet devices but not recommended for people with severe hearing loss. Bone conduction hearing aids: These assist people with conductive hearing loss, as well as those unable to wear conventional type hearing aids.

    Adjusting to Hearing Loss - The brain

    The vibrating part of the device is held against the mastoid with a headband. The vibrations go through the mastoid bone, to the cochlea. These devices can be painful or uncomfortable if worn for too long. If the eardrum and middle ear are functioning correctly, a person may benefit from a cochlear implant. This thin electrode is inserted into the cochlea. It stimulates electricity through a tiny microprocessor placed under the skin behind the ear. A cochlear implant is inserted to help patients whose hearing impairment is caused by hair cell damage in the cochlea.

    The implants usually improve speech comprehension. The latest cochlear implants have new technology that helps patients enjoy music, understand speech better even with background noise, and use their processors while they are swimming. According to the National Institutes of Health NIH , there were about 58, adults and 38, children with cochlear implants in the U. The World Health Organization WHO says approximately , people globally use one, most of them in industrial countries.

    Some people with hearing impairment may have speech problems, as well as difficulties in understanding speech from other people. Also known as speechreading, lip reading is a method for understanding spoken language by watching the speaker's lip, facial and tongue movements, as well as extrapolating from the data provided by the context and any residual hearing the patient might have.


    People who became hearing impaired after they learned to speak can pick up lip reading rapidly; this is not the case for those who are born hearing-impaired. This is a language that uses signs made with the hands, facial expressions, and body postures, but no sounds. It is used mainly by those who are deaf. There are several different types of sign languages.

    What are the signs of hearing loss?

    For instance, BSL uses a two-handed alphabet, whereas American sign language uses a one-handed alphabet. Some countries use the sign language introduced by missionaries from far away. Norwegian sign language, for example, is used in Madagascar. Sign language is completely different from the spoken form, word order, and grammar in BSL is not the same as it is in spoken English. ASL is more grammatically similar to spoken Japanese than spoken English. Nothing can prevent the hearing problems that occur from birth or hearing impairments due to illnesses or accidents.

    The structures in the ears can be damaged in several different ways. Long-term exposure to noise above 85 dB — the volume of a typical lawnmower - can eventually cause hearing loss. Hearing can often deteriorate with age, but the risk can be reduced by taking the correct preventive measure early on.

    Article last updated by Adam Felman on Wed 27 June All references are available in the References tab. Adeyemo, A. Study of streptomycin-induced ototoxicity: protocol for a longitudinal study. SpringerPlus, 5 1 , American Sign Language. Cochlear implants. Research indicates that one in six Australians has some form of hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss experience a drop in self-esteem and confidence because of their impaired ability to communicate with other people. Hearing loss refers to reduced hearing, which can be caused by a variety of factors.

    It can either be congenital or acquired later on in life. It can range from mild hearing loss to profound hearing loss. It can be caused by:. The following content is displayed as Tabs. Once you have activated a link navigate to the end of the list to view its associated content. The activated link is defined as Active Tab. Babies and young children are more likely to develop middle ear infections because they are still building up their immunity The brain uses the inner ear, the eyes and muscles to pinpoint the position of the body at all times In its earlier stages, an acoustic neuroma can present similar symptoms to other, less serious conditions, which may delay diagnosis and treatment Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo BPPV is a condition characterised by episodes of sudden and severe vertigo It is estimated that around four out of five children will experience a middle ear infection at least once Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis are disorders that result in inflammation of the inner ear and the nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain Swimmer's ear can be triggered by exposure to water or mechanical damage due to overzealous cleaning Auditory neuropathy is hearing loss caused by a disruption of nerve impulses travelling from the inner ear to the brain If you are unsure how to best communicate with a colleague who has a hearing impairment, ask them Reduced sound tolerance can confine a person to their home, affect their career and social life, and make everyday activities impossible The earlier that hearing loss is identified in children, the better for the child?

    Is There An Adjustment Period For Hearing Aids?

    A ringing sensation in the ears tinnitus , or people complaining that you talk too loudly are signs you may need to have your hearing checked Like any language, Auslan continues to evolve to meet the communication needs of people who are deaf People are less sensitive to smells the older they get, and women tend to have a more acute sense of smell than men If you suffer from sinusitis, it? Croup is a viral infection of the throat and windpipe that causes noisy breathing, a hoarse voice and a harsh, barking cough Prolonged exposure to air pollutants, such as dust, can irritate the larynx and cause chronic laryngitis Streptococcal infection?

    Because most attacks of tonsillitis are caused by viruses, most of the treatment is aimed at helping to relieve the symptoms This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Australian Hearing. Content on this website is provided for information purposes only.

    Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website.

    All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. Search for your topic using the Merriam Webster medical dictionary. Need to find a doctor in your local area? Take a look at the general practitioners entry in our health service profiles. Please enable JavaScript in order to get the best experience when using this site.

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      Audiology: Hearing Aids

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