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Loss or impairment of hearing can happen due to a variety of causes and may be temporary or permanent in nature, depending on the type and severity of the condition. One of the most common causes of hearing impairment is age. The degeneration of one's vital organs and senses becomes a reality for many people as the advancement of age happens, and the delicate insides of the ears are no different. Noise pollution, injury to the ear drum or any other part of the ear, as well as the movement of particles inside are only a few of the many reasons for loss of hearing. One of the many ways of dealing with long term hearing impairment is by using a hearing aid.
Read on to know how you can regain your hearing with hearing aids:
- Long Forgotten Sound: A hearing aid will help you reacquaint yourself with long forgotten and subtle sounds that you may not have been able to hear for a long time. Many times, this kind of impairment also makes us forget to notice the fact that we do not hear so many normal sounds in our everyday lives - sounds that we probably did not notice even earlier. This may include the whirring of a fan, the whoosh of the air, the pitter patter of pets' feet and so much more. A hearing aid will help in bringing about an adjustment to these sounds that you will actually end up discovering again.
- Technicalities: The hearing aid basically works by letting your hearing and ears readjust to the various volumes, intensity and vibrations that one feels when different sounds reach the ears. This helps in hearing better.
- Amplification: A hearing aid is basically an electroacoustic device that fits in neatly behind your ear where it is tucked away from plain sight. This device helps in amplifying sounds so that you can catch them and hear them more clearly.
- Modulation: The Audiologist, who are specalized in hearing assessment and diagnosis, will prescribe the type and detail of hearing aid based on your individual condition in terms of volume, size, power and circulation. These factors help in modulating the sounds in a certain way so that they reach the nerve pathways from the inner ear and travel to the brain in a proper and effective way. This is usually done in a customised way to cater to the specific type and cause of your hearing loss.
Using a hearing aid is a matter of retraining your hearing rather than restoring it completely. These aids will be helpful in regaining a better sense of hearing within the condition you are going through, rather than reversing the condition completely.
The eardrum is a thin tissue stretched across the ear canal. It protects the inner ear and plays an important role in our ability to hear and recognise sounds. However, because of its delicate construction, it may be perforated or ruptured due to an infection, trauma or damage to the ear. Symptoms of a perforated eardrum include a ringing noise in the ears, vertigo, hearing loss and fluid or blood in the ear canal.
Here are a few tips to deal with perforated eardrum pain.
- Keep the ear dry: If you have a ruptured eardrum, you may bathe and shower normally but do not allow water or soap to enter the ears. Placing a wad of cotton or gauze over the ear can help protect the ear. While showering you may hold the cotton in place with your finger by applying light pressure on the same. Do not press it too hard or try to plug the ear completely. Some water may fall off your fingers but this will be absorbed by the cotton and will not enter the ear. Remove this cotton or gauze only after you have finished towelling yourself.
- Do not plug the ears: It is a normal reaction to plug the ears with cotton or gauze if you notice blood or any other fluid flowing from the ear. However, this should never be done. Plugging the ears will trap the fluid within the ear and promote bacterial infections. This can aggravate the perforation even further. Instead, keep the ear canal open and as dry as possible. Slowly the bleeding will cease and a clot will be formed on its own.
- Rest: As far as possible avoid travelling if you have a ruptured eardrum. Instead, stay at home and get some rest. Though the rest of your body may feel fine, it needs rest and recuperation to build up its immunity and heal. Try to lie on your side so that the ear with the perforated eardrum facing downwards. This will help the blood and fluids accumulated inside drain out.
- Take the prescribed medicine: A ruptured eardrum can be painful and hence your doctor is likely to prescribe pain relievers. Follow this prescription strictly and continue taking the medication until the course is completed. Do not stop midway without consulting your doctor. Also, do not overdose or self-medicate with over the counter pain relievers.
Hearing loss is not something limited to elderly men or elderly women only. This is something that can affect any adult at any stage of life. The good news is that it can be managed. Today, there are a number of hearing aids that can help improve hearing ability. These aids allow an individual who has lost part of his or her hearing to live a normal life. For best results, hearing loss should be arrested in its early stages.
- Muffled Speech: When you hear people talk, their speech should be clearly identifiable. If you hear muffled noises that you have to interpret as words, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
- Difficulty understanding words: The human ear has the ability to separate conversational sounds from ambient noise. However, in some cases where the inner ear is damaged, a person might find it difficult to separate the two. In such cases, the person might not be able to understand words clearly as they get confused with background noise. This is a sign that must never be taken lightly.
- Feeling the need to ask people to repeat themselves: Once in a while if you find yourself asking another person to repeat what he or she said, there is nothing to worry. However, if this becomes a regular occurrence and happens with many people, then the fault lies in your hearing. Thus, if you notice yourself needing to ask people to repeat themselves or talk slowly, consult a hearing specialist.
- Increasing the volume of the radio or television: As children, we are taught that playing music or watching TV at a very high volume can damage the ears. The radio, television and other such appliances should be played at a volume where the information being relayed is clearly audible and people can have a conversation alongside without needing to shout. If you find yourself having to increase the volume constantly, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
- Withdrawing from conversations: As hearing loss is aggravated, people begin to feel conscious of having to ask others around them to repeat themselves or talk slowly. This can make them withdraw from a conversation and other social situations. In many cases, the simple reason for avoiding a party could be the discomfort of not being able to hear the other person clearly in a conversation.
All hearing problems can be better handled by proper investigation, different test, sign and symptoms of the patient, which are carried by a specialist of hearing, called as Audiologist, who can look your hearing problems, plan out treatment plan, rehabilitation pre and post etc. Audiologist will definitely help you hear again.
The structure of the ear can be broadly divided into three parts; the outer ear or visible part, the middle ear and the inner ear. The middle ear is highly susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Ear infections can affect infants, children and adults. Ear infections are triggered by the blockage or swelling of tubes within the ear. These tubes are known as eustachian tubes.
This may be caused by:
- Sinus infections
- Cold or flu
- Excessive mucus
- Swollen adenoids or an adenoid infection
- Change in air pressure
Symptoms of an ear infection may be noticed in one or both ears. These symptoms vary from person to person. In some cases, they may come and go while in others, they can be experienced for a long stretch of time. In most cases, symptoms of a chronic ear infection are less noticeable as compared to an acute ear infection.
Some of the most common ear infection symptoms are:
- Ear pain: In the case of an ear infection in only one ear, the pain may be mild but if it has affected both ears, the patient can be caused considerable pain in the ears. This pain is usually more severe when the patient is lying down.
- Discharge of pus from the ears: Ear infections that affect the eardrum can cause fluid or pus to flow out of the ears. In some cases, there may also be a little bleeding. Do not plug the ears to keep this discharge from flowing as it can aggravate the infection further.
- Loss of hearing: A blockage in the middle ear can make sounds appear muffled. This can temporarily affect hearing. It is usually relieved when the infection is cured.
- Sensation of pressure in the ear canal: The buildup of fluid within the ear canal can make it feel full and create a sense of pressure. If the infection affects only one ear, this pressure can cause a sense of dis-balance.
- Fussiness in young infants: Ear infections can be very painful and uncomfortable for young infants. It can make it difficult for them to sleep, make them cranky and more irritable than usual.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause a fever that is often higher than 100 degrees. If it crosses 102 degrees, a doctor must be consulted immediately.
- Loss of balance: The ears not only help us hear but also influence our sense of balance. A middle ear infection can cause dizziness, vertigo and nausea.
While it is sheer joy for a parent to see his/her child respond to questions and discussions, some children may not be able to do so, as they cannot hear what the parent is saying or asking. This condition of hearing loss can be either seen at birth (congenital) or it may develop after a few years (acquired). While it is difficult identifying hearing loss before 6 months of age, earlier detection can be extremely helpful in terms of improving the prognosis. Though not common, congenital hearing loss affects about 1.4 per 1000 births, while acquired loss affects about 5 per 1000 births.
Signs to identify hearing loss:
- Takes time to respond to your call often
- Repeatedly asks you to repeat what you just said
- Tries to keep the ear closer to the source of the sound, either people or things
- Asks for the volume of TV and music to be higher than normal
- The child talks louder to be clear and understood
- The teacher at school complains about lack of attention
- Appears to be not paying attention to what said, and says, “didn’t hear you”
- Appears to lip-read by looking at the lips intently to see what you said
- Could have ear pains or ringing in the ears
- Reluctant to use phone or strains to hear over the phone
Before proceeding to treatment, the first step is to confirm hearing loss. A thorough physical exam and audiogram can help identify the reason for the hearing loss, so treatment can be planned accordingly.
In some children, severe wax buildup and middle ear infections can also cause hearing loss. All it requires is clearing of wax and a course of infection treatment to restore hearing. With medical advances, tests which are painless and non-invasive can be done in children as young as 6 months to confirm hearing loss.
- Hearing aids: With aesthetics being a major concern, there are discreet devices which can be completely hidden. Even severe hearing loss can be managed with these.
- Cochlear implant: Where there is a nervous problem, cochlear implants are used.
- Speech therapy: For kids who have had a delay in picking up speech and language, additional speech therapy may be required.
Confirmation of hearing loss, is done by audiologist & speech language pathologist who are specialized in dealing with hearing and speech related problems and their management. So, its always advised to follow the specialist. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!