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.

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Father with partially deaf daughter

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:

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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:

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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.

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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
* dizziness

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 baby-do-signacoustical 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.

Digital Aids:
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

 

Digital Aids

Digital Aid

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:

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.

In-The-Ear Aid
& In-The-Ear Aid

There are a number of styles of aids that are encased within a plastic shell and are worn entirely within the ear. These include:

  • traditional in-the-canal

  • custom in-the-ear (ITE) model, which can completely fill the ear canal

  • half-concha, a thinner low-profile model

  • helix model, an even smaller model (for high-frequency losses)

  • completely-in-the-canal aid, the tiniest style, so small it must be remove from the ear by pulling on a thin cord that rest at the bottom of the bowl of the ear.

It’s possible to control tone but not volume, which makes them generally helpful for only mild losses. More than half of all the hearing aids sold today are in-the-ear aids. These new aids are extremely expensive, but they are invisible and offer acoustic and maintenance advantages.

The good thing about an in-the-ear aid is that it won’t bump into your glasses, and it can provide more power for the higher frequencies. In addition, many people find these aids are easier to put on and take off than the behind-the-ear style.

Behind-the-ear aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aid
Behind-the-ear hearing aid  

Less popular are the behind-the-ear aids that include a microphone, amplifier, and a receiver inside a small curved case worn behind the ear that’s connected to the earmold by a short plastic tube.

The earmold extends into the ear canal from a quarter to three quarters of an inch.

Some models have both tone and volume control plus a telephone pickup device.  

These hearing aids feature a larger microphone, amplifier and power supply inside a case.

On-the-body hearing aid

On-The-Body Aid

On-The-Body-Aid

This device is carried inside a pocket or attached to clothing. The external receiver attaches directly to the earmold; its power comes through a flexible wire from the amplifier.

Although larger than other aids. on-the-body hearing aids are also more powerful and easier to adjust than smaller devices. If you are almost totally deaf, you may find you need that extra boost in power available only from the body aid.

Monaural/Binaural Aids :

Monaural hearing aids include any aid that provides sound to just one ear, whereas binaural aids include two complete hearing devices, one in each ear. Some wearers find that the binaural system increases direction sense and helps separate sound from unwanted background noise. 

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. 

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Listen to this amazing video, If You’re a parent with children between ages 2-14

This Is A MUST Read!! “Features covered in Deaf Education in the 21st Century:”

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Features covered in Deaf Education in the 21st Century:

·        Information on myths and misconceptions about people who are deaf help students understand the issues and challenges that the deaf and hard of hearing population face each day

·        Multiple chapters focus on cognition and personal and social development and additionally offer students important information about deaf education that is not always included in introductory material.

A chapter that examines postsecondary opportunities and employment trends for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

·        Several chapters discussing the impact of cochlear implants on language and literacy help students understand this new and complex development in deaf education.

·        Extensive coverage on preparing personnel to serve individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing offers unique information, not often found in other texts, about what educators, interpreters and social service providers need to know and do to successfully work with the deaf population.

For some great reviews, pricing & more incredible information, then don’t delay!

“I Want To Change Someone’s Life Now”

12 thoughts on “How Families Hear Today For A Better Tomorrow | A Brighter Future Ahead

  1. I have a cousin who was born deaf and dumb. He can only hear loud sounds when he wears his hearing aids, but I guess it’s because they are old models. I see that your article has got more advanced hearing aids. I will try and get his mom to read this. I so wish there was something that could help him, even for just a day. Just so he could hear what people sounds like when talking. 

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Hi Mimie, sorry to hear that your cousin is having so much trouble with his hearing aid. Yes, please share this with your aunt and maybe hopefully what I offer can help. I’m here to serve. That’s why I write these articles, to help others.

  2. This article is a real treasure trove of information and recommendations for people who have hearing problems, and for people who live with and care for these people.
    Hearing problems often start in the older years of life, and my mom’s hearing also started to deteriorate. I am glad that there are many gadgets and products on the market today for these kinds of problems because they really help to improve the quality of life. I have now seen in your article that there is a really wide range of types and styles of hearing aids, I was not aware of this and I am very happy to have read this article.
    I wish you all the best
    Nina

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Yes Nina, the more information put out there on this subject, the more helpful it could be to families. Many families around the globe are affected with this issue and is always seeking help. Looking for more valuable information.

  3. Thank you for this post packed with useful information. A dear friend has been telling me about his Meniere’s disease. So I was googling What triggers it.

    And I have discovered that Meniere’s disease causes are not known, but scientists believe it’s caused by changes in the fluid in tubes of the inner ear. So I have been thinking how that could have happend to my friend.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thank you Ann for checking in. For one, your friend probably has improper fluid drainage regarding the inner ear, that was mostly caused by an abnormality anatomic blockage. Meniere’s disease also could be from an abnormal immune response, a viral infection or genetic predisposition. Because no single cause has been identified, Meniere’s disease could result from a combination of factors.

  4. Thank you for sharing this information. My husband can only hear part of some of my words. It is frustrating to hold a conversation with him because he can’t catch the first letters – mostly the letter S. I didn’t realize that aspirin could cause some hearing loss. Wow, something as simple as discontinuing aspirin could make your hearing better.
    The digital aids sound like the perfect solution to hearing problems. It is truly unique how a digital device can amplify certain sounds and even adjust the volume as needed. There is a great lesson here, which is to research hearing aids before randomly making a purchase.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thank you Sharon for commenting. I don’t need to ask, but I know you’ve been working with your husband and his hearing issues. (If he’s been taking aspirin, STOP!) Also remember, that a good ENT could be very helpful. Whatever works! Even when searching, finding and selecting a hearing aid. Think of quality first!

  5. Hi Ronald. Thank you for another great post! I do have person in my family with hearing problems and I know how his parents were struggling with finding valid information. That’s why your blog is so important as I think we still are not talking enough about how to deal with such illnesses. And to be fair I have not heard before about book “Deaf Education” you are mentioning, but definitely I will recommend it to my family.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thank you my friend for commenting. I’m very happy to hear that you’ve found some value in my post. The struggles parents of deaf children must face is very difficult. I feel it should be a ‘group thing’ where all members of the family and extended families assist. Please share my post. 

  6. You have certainly outdone yourself here when it comes to everything hearing-related. I was looking online to see if my condition was serious when I came across this post, which I found very helpful.

    I battle to hear if someone talks to me if there is a lot of background noise. For instance, if the TV is on and someone in the next room shouts something to me, I can’t hear them.

    I read here that it may be Sensorineural hearing loss, and now it makes a lot of sense. I really must go and get myself checked. Do you think listening to very loud music all my life (I teach dance) could have something to do with this problem?

    • Ronald Kennedy

      First, let me thank you for commenting Michel on my post. To answer your question, Yes for sure. Exposing your ears to any type of loud sounds, long term will damage your cochlear. This tiny snail-shaped structure is the main organ of hearing, and part of your inner ear. Once damaged, permanent hearing loss occurs. 

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