For A Better Tomorrow
Once you are aware that you have a hearing loss, you will want to learn more about it. There are two major types of hearing loss – Conductive and sensorineural. Although sensorineural hearing loss is the most prevalent type of loss, especially in older people, you should seek a proper diagnosis from an appropriate hearing health care provider.
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. Hearing aids can be very beneficial to people with a conductive loss.
This type of hearing loss also often responds to medical or surgical treatment, but only if the auditory nerve and inner ear are functioning well.
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.
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.
Sensorineural loss is rarely correctable medically or surgically; however, in the great majority of cases, properly fitted hearing aids and assistive devices can help you hear better.
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
Other conditions often associated with hearing loss follow…
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.
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 symptons 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
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 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 inception, the foundation has been dedicated to the continuing education of ear specialists and to the development of auditory and vestibular research.
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:
- 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.
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