Original Published Date: March 19, 2021
Better Communication Within Our Hearing Society
In regards to hearing disabilities among individuals, they’re really only two major types of hearing loss that affect young and old. Many factors can also contribute to this. The importance of how families hear in life is ‘key!’
TWO MAJOR TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
Any type of hearing aid may be worn in both ears, if the listener can tolerate two aids and can benefit from amplifying residual hearing in both ears. Once you are aware that you have a hearing loss, you will want to learn more about it; especially if your child is affected.
There are two major types of hearing loss:
Conductive and sensorineural.
CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS – Conductive hearing loss is caused by a blockage, usually in the middle ear, that prevents sound from being conducted to the middle ear. The blockage can be caused by wax build up, an ear infection, fusion of the bones in the middle ear, a punctured eardrum, or tumors. Sounds seem soft but speech is clear as long as it is loud enough.
SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS – Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear. The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is aging, although high fevers, ototoxic drugs, and noise are other causes. So it can affect younger children as well, depending on their environment.
If you have this type of hearing loss, you have trouble hearing in crowded rooms and while watching tv, as well as difficulty understanding conversation. Also called ‘Nerve deafness,’ this type of hearing loss usually is not caused by damage to the auditory nerve but in the hair cells in the inner ear.
Individual hair cells respond, or are “tuned,” to specific sounds. Some may be so severely damaged that they cannot react when sound from the outside strikes them. At the time, the hair cells for certain speech sounds may be functioning normally. This causes you to miss parts of words and sentences.
A third could be added here involving MIXED HEARING LOSS – This involves both conductive and sensorineural components. Medical or surgical intervention may help the conductive portion and a hearing aid can help both the sensorineural loss and the conductive component. Here are some causes of hearing loss.
OTHER HEARING DISORDERS:
One other condition often associated with hearing loss is one that affect many, many folks world-wide and is commonly known as Tinnitus. Tinnitus is the name for a ringing in the ears or other head noises, a common disorder experienced by nearly 50 million Americans. Tinnitus, which almost always accompanies a hearing loss, can also affect people with normal hearing.
Another is Meniere’s Disease:
One of the more common causes of dizziness (vertigo) is Meniere’s disease. The symptoms also include tinnitus, hearing fluctuation, and hearing loss. its cause is unknown but probably results from abnormality in the fluids of the inner ear.
Currently, no known cure for Meniere’s disease is available; however, medications can be prescribed for acute attacks, and symptoms may be prevented or somewhat reduced with certain medications.
This can be accomplished by adopting a low-sodium diet, avoiding caffeine and avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking, avoiding noisy and stressful situations, and using exercise to reduce stress and improve circulation. Sometimes surgery is recommended to relieve acute recurrent attacks of dizziness and severe vertigo.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease:
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED) is treatable especially in its early stages with potent anti-inflammatory medications. The inner ear environment triggers an inflammatory response that can damage components of the hearing and balance receptors within the inner ear.
The body itself initiates the inflammatory process, attacking the tissues as foreign, even though there is no infection.
Effect of Medication on Hearing Loss – Ototoxic Medications are drugs that may cause damage to the inner ear, resulting in temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.
If you have a sensorineural hearing loss, you should ask your doctor and pharmacist about medications prescribed for you since you will want to prevent an aggravation of your hearing problem.
The degree of hearing loss that you experience when taking an ototoxic drug depends on the amount and duration of the use of the medication.
If you are taking more than one ototoxic medication, you are even more vulnerable to developing a sensorineural hearing loss or aggravating your existing hearing loss.
With many drugs, such as aspirin, hearing loss returns to normal after they are discontinued, no matter how much or how long you use them. If you experience any of the following signs of ototoxicity, consult your doctor.
Some common symptoms are:
* noises in your ear (tinnitus)
* pressure in you ears
* an awareness of, and a fluctuation or increase in the degree of your hearing loss
Other Conditions: For information about other conditions associated with hearing loss such as otosclerosis, acoustic neuroma, Usher syndrome, and Cogan syndrome, consult your otolaryngologist and library resources.
‘BEGINNINGS’- AN ORGANIZATION FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD-OF-HEARING:
A nonprofit agency established to provide emotional support and objective information to parents of deaf and hard -of-hearing children. The mission of the organization is to help parents be informed so that they can be knowledgeable decision makers.
‘BEGINNINGS’ can help parents work with schools to get appropriate services for a child, give information on assistive listening devices and provide referrals to other organizations.
CONFERENCE OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATORS SERVING THE DEAF (CEASD):
A nonprofit organization committed to improved management in programs for deaf students and educational options for deaf people.
The organization was founded in 1869 as the Conference of Superintendents and Principals of American School for the Deaf. the dream of Edward Miner Gallaudet, then president of the Columbia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb ( now GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY), was to unite school principals behind his philosophy of communication in the classroom.
Today, the group tries to promote a continuation of educational opportunities for deaf people in North America and to encourage efficient management of schools and programs for deaf people.
THE EAR FOUNDATION: A national, nonprofit organization founded in 1971 and committed to leading the effort for better hearing for better hearing through public and professional educational programs, support services and applied research.
The foundation is particularly interested in problems of ear-related disorders, specifically hearing loss and balance disturbances. From its conception, the foundation has been dedicated to the continuing education of ear specialists and to the development of auditory and vestibular research. Also in regards to deaf children, over-coming barriers regarding communicating in society is important.
Although this research is focused on the ‘the good of our health,’ lets now take a look at the structure of the human ear in itself. This delicate part of our bodies takes a beating over the years. From youth up until we grow older, our ears experience many different levels of sound decimals; which over time is damaging.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE EAR ANATOMY:
The human ear is a delicate and sensitive structure. Under normal conditions it processes a wide range of acoustical activity through the nervous system and the brain in order for you to be able to hear sound.
When any part of the ear breaks down, it affects our ability to perceive sound. Disease, heredity, infections, and noise are among the cause of hearing loss. Aging is another major cause of hearing deterioration.
To understand what happens when our ear function diminishes, you need to understand the anatomy of the ear and how it works.
Anatomy of the Ear:
The ear has three major parts: ‘outer ear canal,’ ‘the middle ear;’ and ‘the inner ear.’
The outer ear collects sound waves and funnels them into the middle ear, which passes them onto the inner ear.
The inner ear converts the waves into nerve impulses and transmits them to the brain. The inner ear also contains the balance mechanism.
The outer ear:
Includes both the ear we see – the pinna – and the outer ear canal, a passage about three quarters of an inch long. Sound travels through the canal and hits the eardrum, a thin membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
The middle ear:
There is a small cavity between the eardrum and the inner ear. It contains three small, connected bones (Auditory Ossicle): the malleus (hammer), the incus (anvil), and the stapes (stirrup).
When the eardrum vibrates, these bones also vibrate, thus conducting sound to the inner ear. The middle ear also includes the eustachian tube, which leads to the nose and throat, and whose main function is to keep the air pressure in the middle ear equal to the surrounding environment.
The inner ear:
This part of the ear consist of two structures that contain membrane-lined chambers filled with fluid: the labyrinth and the cochlea. The labyrinth is part of the ear used for balance. The cochlea plays a role in hearing.
The auditory nerve attaches to the labyrinth and the cochlea, and connects the hearing and balance functions of the inner ear to appropriate parts of the brain.
As sound vibrations are transmitted to the cochlea, they set tiny hair cells in motion. These hair cells transform the vibrations into nerve impulses. The acoustic nerve picks up these impulses and sends them to the brain, which interprets these signals as words and other sounds. (See Can Allergies Affect Your Ears?)
The labyrinth in each inner ear monitors the position and movements of the head by means of three semicircular canals.
General Information on hearing aids:
The first hearing aids were fairly simple cone-shaped instruments ranging from a rolled-up tube to an elaborate “ear trumpet” which gave consumers a slight boost in sound. The first hearing aid appeared in 1921 after the Invention of the vacuum tube, but these devices were cumbersome units with large parts and heavy batteries.
Today, a hearing aid system consists of a small microphone designed to pick up sound waves and convert them into electrical signals in a pattern that represents sound waves. These signals are fed into an amplifier, which boosts the signal and sends it to a receiver.
PROPER CARE ON HEARING AIDS:
A hearing aid should last about five years, with proper care. You can lower your maintenance and repair costs considerably by following these tips:
First of all, keep in mind that heat and cold can damage a hearing aid. Don’t wear it under a hair dryer or store it near a heat source. Also, keep it off a windowsill where it can be exposed to sunlight. Don’t wear it for more than a few minutes in very cold weather.
Avoid wearing the aid in the rain or when sweating a great deal. Although drops of rain aren’t as harmful as mist and vapor, just keep it out of steamy bathrooms and kitchens. Don’t inadvertently spray it with hair spray. Never wear the aid while taking a bath.
*Keep the aid in a plastic bag. It would be helpful to have a silica gel inside the bag to help absorb moisture.
*Turn the aid off and remove the batteries when not in use.
*Don’t handle the hearing aid roughly, and try to avoid knocking it onto the floor.
*Wash the ear mold with soapy water occasionally, but never immerse the mechanical parts of the hearing aid.
*Protect it from dust, since small particles can clog up the microphone openings.
*Watch out for wax buildup in the small holes of the ear mold. If you produce lots of wax, ask your dispenser about a wax guard, a small screen that can catch wax before it becomes wedged into the hearing aid.
*Clean the battery compartment & connections with a pencil eraser.
*Replace the tubing on behind-the-ear aids when it becomes yellowed or brittle.
*Replace cracked wiring on body hearing aids right away.
*Keep spare batteries with you, and store extras in a cool, dry place.
*Insert only dry, room-temperature batteries into the aid.
*Don’t keep more than a month’s supply of batteries at one time.
*Take your hearing aid to your dealer/dispenser for a checkup and a cleaning once a year.
TYPES OF HEARING AIDS
Today’s most sophisticated aids may range up to $6,000; most of these are small enough to fit into a pocket. Most are not usually covered by health insurance.
These newest type of digital hearing aids represent a major breakthrough in computer-tuned sound, and contain miniature computer chips designed to tailor sound to the ear of the person wearing the device.
These are actually tiny computers that have a computer chip inside doing the amplifier work, inside of the traditional analog circuity. While most people with hearing problems have trouble
with certain tones within the hearing spectrum, most aids amplify all tones equally.
Digital aids can be adjusted to screen out background noise and amplify certain tones, depending on the environment. Some of the newest aids break down sound into more than twice as many channels as other aids on the market, providing a more personalized hearing experience. They are set by hearing health care providers using an external computer.
Nonlinear Single-Channel Aids:
More advanced technology produced a nonlinear aid that has more amplification given to soft sounds than for loud sounds.
Once sounds reach a certain level, the aid automatically adjusts the volume. This type of aid squeezes a wide range of loudness into a narrower range, which is why they are also called compression hearing aids.
Nonlinear Multi-channel Aids:
This newer type of aid is designed with a consumer’s personal hearing needs in mind, based upon how loud certain sounds need to be interpreted for various frequencies.
In hearing aids with only one channel, a loud noise of low frequency (such as sound during a party) would trigger the hearing aid to lower the amplification for all frequencies, which would help keep the sound from being too loud – but would also make some high-frequency sounds (such as consonants) too soft to hear.
In the same situation, a multi-channel aid would decrease the amplification for low frequencies without changing the amplification for high frequencies. If fitted correctly, they can greatly improve speech clarity (especially in noisy listening environments).
Multiple/Automatic Program Aid:
Some hearing aids have several different programs that can be selected by a touch of a button (either on the aid or on a separate remote control) to select amplification best suited to different environments, such as listening, in a restaurant, in a one-on-one situation or for music.
Other aids have automatic volume regulation so that the consumer doesn’t have to bother with volume volume control. However, some people don’t like aids that take away too much control.
In-the-ear-aids are the lightweight devices that fit inside the ear canal with no visible wires or tubes. This aid is created from an impression of your ear canal; the components are then built into the case that is molded from this impression.