27th September 2020 is World Deaf Day, and this day is celebrated every year to inform and educate the general public, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and even family members of patients with hearing loss about the multiple implications of deafness. Awareness is also spread about the ways in which hearing can be corrected or aided. Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are suitable for varying degrees of deafness, and they can be used with any cochlear implant or hearing aid. The most common ALDs are—
Hearing Loop Systems - This system includes four parts—a sound source, an amplifier, a loop of wire branching out in the room, and a receiver that is worn as a headset or placed near the ear. Electromagnetic fields are used by the loops for delivering sound and the receiver picks up this sound directly. Alternately known as induction loop system, this ALD can be connected with a television set, an audio source, and even with public address systems. With a portable loop system, hearing loss may be alleviated for those who wish to be active in different listening environments.
Infrared Systems - Utilizing infrared light for transmission of sound, these ALDs convert sound into light signals following which, a beam is sent to the receiver worn by the listener. This infrared signal is then decoded back to sound by the receiver. Since these signals don’t pass through walls, Infrared Systems are especially convenient in places where the problem of competing signals might make hearing difficult. A shortcoming of this system, however, is that it cannot be used in places that have excess and multiple light sources.
FM Systems - These ALDs use radio signals for transmitting sounds and amplifying them as well. In classroom settings, FM systems are used wherein the instructor may wear a small microphone that is linked to a transmitter, and students who wear receivers set to the requisite channel or frequency can pick up the signals. FM systems are capable of transmitting signals up to nearly 300 feet, owing to which they can be used with ease in public places as well.
Alerting Devices - Listening devices such as doorbell alerts with flashing lights, vibrating alarm clocks, smoke detectors that flash and vibrate, etc. help to make your environment safer, especially when you choose not to wear hearing aids.
Adapting to an ALD can be life-changing for people with hearing impediments. Choice of ALDs is generally contingent on one’s specific requirements.
While deafness as a disease is often treated with stigma in society, it has to be detected early in order to prevent excessive damage. For this, one must acquaint oneself with the early signs of hearing loss:
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Damage to hair cells found in the nerve pathways of the inner ear causes this type of deafness, and the impairment manifests itself in symptoms that may become severe over time:
discomfort when exposed to loud sounds
difficulty receiving both high and low pitched noise
one ear may function better than the other
loss of clarity in deciphering speech
Do Your Ears Feel “Clogged”?
Resulting in the reception of sound in a muffled and unclear manner, a build-up of fluid or wax can lead to this symptom. Consider getting your ears cleaned. If the problem still persists, you may have to go for a hearing test.
You are Unconsciously Reading People’s Lips!
You must see a doctor immediately if you find yourself avoiding eye-contact with people, but struggling to follow their lips in order to understand what they are saying. The brain’s default function is to employ one sense (eyesight) more than the other (hearing) when the latter is unable to function properly. When you try to “see” sounds because you cannot hear them, it is likely that your hearing loss has become quite severe.
Inability to Comprehend High-Pitched Sounds
The cells in the inner ear that facilitate comprehension of high-pitched sounds deteriorate with age, making it difficult to understand anyone speaking in a high-pitch. Symptoms manifest in one’s inability to hear beeping and chirping noises or the speech of children and women.
Symptoms of “Cookie-Bite” Deafness
Characterized by difficulty in hearing mid-range frequency noises, a person suffering from “cookie-bite” loss of hearing may experience problems in hearing common everyday sounds (talking, listening to music, etc.), but they can understand high-frequency sounds easily.
Remember that even slight problems in hearing may have serious consequences. Consult your doctor at the earliest to prevent any lasting damage to your ears!
The most common assumption about deafness is that is it irreversible, this is hardly true at all times. Hearing loss can be amended and alleviated in many instances, and even be restored with medical and surgical intervention. Here are the most common ways by which one may restore lost hearing—
Cochlear Implants - Possibly the most popular method of restoring hearing, cochlear implants are responsible for the direct stimulation of the auditory nerve in cases where parts of the auditory system are damaged. Their high rate of effectiveness makes them a common choice for patients with partial or severe deafness.
Pressure Equilization (PE) Tubes - Commonly referred to as Middle Ear Tubes, this minor surgical procedure usually takes little time and resources. Since this procedure is mostly adopted in instances of ear infections or to remedy fluid accumulation by releasing the build-up of pressure behind the eardrum, PE Tubes can reverse temporary deafness only.
Bone-Anchored Hearing Systems (BAHAs) - BAHAs are devices, which are surgically implanted behind the ear where the mastoid bone is located. Another device—like a hearing aid—is later fit over the patient’s bone implant. People with problems in the ear canal or the outer ear, as well as those who have lost their hearing in one ear usually opt for BAHAs. The device system works by converting sound to vibrations and these vibrations are received in the inner ear to stimulate sound waves that are enhanced by the implant.
Antibiotic and Antifungal Medications - Medications can help restore partial deafness, but they work only when hearing loss is of a temporary nature, and is a product of excessive wax or fluid build-ups. Doctors prescribe medications to treat discomfiture from chronic middle fluid and ear infections. Hearing loss is generally restored after the medication has worked successfully. However, in some cases like tumour formations, surgery might be inevitable for restoring lost hearing.
Stapedectomy - In this surgical method, conductive hearing loss is corrected by replacing the middle ear’s innermost bone—generally called “staples”—with a prosthesis. Only specific medical conditions relating to deafness can be corrected by this measure, and one needs to undergo a series of tests before opting for surgery.
Don’t let hearing loss intimidate you; seek help when there’s still time!
Don’t let hearing loss limit you.” Recent advancements in technology and medicine have ensured that hearing loss is no longer a hurdle for those who wish to live life to the fullest. Stapedectomy is one such remedial procedure that has proven to amend deafness in cases where the patient’s condition is rather severe and traditional hearing aids have proven to be of little help.
What is Stapedectomy?
The “Stapedectomy” procedure derives its name from the bone located in the middle ear called “staples” or stirrup. The surgical process involves making an incision in the ear canal’s skin following which the eardrum and incised skin are lifted to reach the staples bone. A laser is sometimes used for the purpose of destroying parts of the staples bone, following which, the remnant pieces are removed.
The surgery ends with the removal of the staples bone and replacing it with a prosthesis. Once the device fits in the ear, an ointment plug or cotton may be lightly stuffed in the ear canal to ensure that the eardrum is in place. The packing also protects the prosthesis and prevents it from being dislocated until it is set.
When is it Recommended?
Stapedectomy is primarily recommended to patients who are suffering from acute otosclerosis—a condition that is sometimes inherited and is the product of abnormal remodelling of the staples in the middle ear. This impediment prevents sound from travelling through the ear since the bone can no longer vibrate and facilitate the hearing process. As a consequence, hearing is impaired.
Not everyone, however, is required to undergo this procedure to revive their hearing. Patients are required to undergo ear examinations and audiometric tests, and their responsiveness to a hearing aid is also taken into account following which the doctor decides the appropriateness of this surgery.
Moreover, postoperative factors are also assessed in order to determine the suitability of the procedure for patients who may have underlying conditions that might be affected by potential risks rising from an unsuccessful surgery. These risks involve complete deafness, development of tinnitus, facial paralysis, and temporary problems like dizziness and loss of taste.
Hearing is restored with Stapedectomy in 90% cases, and most potential risks are eliminated when the process is carried out by an experienced surgeon.
This year’s World Deaf Day—set to be celebrated on 27th September—urges people to practice its message of living beyond fear, as is articulated in its motto: “Hearing for life.
World Deaf Day will be celebrated on 27th September this year, and like every year, numerous sensitization programmes will be organized by individuals and institutions to educate people about the implications of hearing loss. World Deaf Day is celebrated every year in the month of September to celebrate the memory of renowned artist and landscape painter Richard Seymour Redmond who lost his hearing abilities after a bout of scarlet fever at three years of age. Despite this impediment, he went on to create a life for himself that serves as a continuing testament to his incredible willpower, perseverance, and talent.
While hearing loss tends to be mostly irreversible, one can prevent and alleviate the degree of loss in numerous ways, owing largely to recent developments in medicine and technology. Before looking into options, it is best to familiarize oneself with the most common reasons behind hearing loss:
Exposure to Loud Noise - Although easily undermined by most people, it has been proven that constant exposure to very loud noises can permanently damage hearing. Since the loss happens gradually over time, patients tend to remain in the dark about their ongoing impediment until it’s too late.
Taking Medications that are Ototoxic - While this often comes as a surprise, there are in fact numerous medications that can negatively affect your hearing capacity, the most common ones being-
aspirin (in large dosages)
drugs used in chemotherapy
Consult your doctor for possible side effects when medications are prescribed to you.
Ménière's disease - Usually affecting those between 30-40 years of age, the reason behind Ménière's disease is yet to be known. Frequently characterized by sensorineural hearing loss, this inner ear disease leads to dizziness, sensitivity to very loud noises, and a perpetual ringing sensation in the ear.
Presbycusis - Another kind of sensorineural hearing loss, Presbycusis develops with age and worsens when left untreated for long. Patients might find it difficult to comprehend the speech of other people since sound reaches them in an unclear and stifled manner.
Tumours or Bone Growth - Manifesting themselves as general ear infections, anomalous bone growths and tumours may develop inconspicuously in the middle or outer ear and can cause severe loss of hearing when left untreated. Bony growths, however, can be effectively resolved with surgery.
Hereditary Reasons - Genetic makeup plays a vital role in determining one’s hearing ability, although people may not necessarily be born with hearing impediments. Deafness may be accompanied by deteriorating eyesight when it has a late onset, as is the case with Usher’s Syndrome, a problem that has largely genetic roots.
Wax Build-Up - When the ear canal is obstructed with excess wax, sound cannot reach the eardrum. This is the most easily remedied form of hearing loss.
This World Deaf Day, do your best to spread awareness for preventing hearing loss!
Visit an ENT specialist to get the ear check-up done and find out the common causes like wax, drum perforation, sensorineural hearing loss, unsafe csom, otosclerosis etc. Timely intervention can restore hearing to a large extent and cure the underlying disease.