What is Hearing Deficit?
Hearing Deficit refers to an individual’s inability to hear sounds clearly. Hearing Deficit may range from mild hearing loss to complete deafness. This usually happens as a result of some damage to the parts of the ear. The ear has three parts namely the outer layer, middle layer, and in the inner layer. Damage to any of these layers of the ear can lead to Hearing Deficit. The degree of Hearing Deficit depends on which layer of the ear is damaged.
Different Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss : This is a type of a hearing deficit which is caused due to damage to the outer or middle layer of the ear which includes the eardrum or the ear canal. The damage affects the way sound passes through the ear resulting in the sound seeming quieter than normal.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss : Another condition called Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs when there is damage to the inner layer of the ear, the cochlea or the auditory nerve, because of which the affected individual has problems listening or comprehending sounds clearly. The interpretation of various sounds also gets affected due to this condition. Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a permanent condition and cannot get corrected. In some cases, there is damage to both the inner as well as the outer layer of the ear resulting in complete deafness where the affected individual is not able to hear anything at all.
Mixed Hearing Loss : Another type of Hearing Deficit is Mixed Hearing Loss in which the affected individual has both Conductive as well as Sensorineural Hearing Loss. A condition which cannot be considered as a Hearing Deficit but can be a variant is the Auditory Processing Disorder. This is because in this type of hearing loss, an individual is able to hear sounds in a quiet environment normally but is not able to hear clearly in a noisy atmosphere.
Congenital Or Acquired: Hearing Deficit can be congenital or acquired. Congenital Hearing Deficit occurs when the damage to the ear occurs at the time of birth.
Acquired Hearing Deficit occurs when damage is done to the ears due to external factors like an injury or some type of medical condition.
What Causes Hearing Deficit?
In children and adolescents, the most common cause of Hearing Deficit is a medical condition called Otitis Media. This is a condition in which an infection affects the middle layer of the ear. This infection can lead to build up of pus behind the eardrum impeding the transmission of sound waves through the ear causing Hearing Deficit.
This is a common condition and can easily be treated with medications and draining the pus. In some cases Otitis Media resolves on its own without requiring any intervention and once the infection clears hearing comes back to normal.
Hearing Deficit can also be caused due to is collection of dirt, earwax, or fluid as a result of common cold and allergies which may obstruct the transmission of sound waves causing temporary Hearing Deficit. Damage to the eardrum such as a hole or a puncture wound in the eardrum may affect its ability to vibrate normally resulting in Hearing Deficit. This damage can be done while cleaning the ear using an object such as a matchstick or a pencil, a sudden loud noise such as an explosion, a head injury due to a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall, or a sudden change in barometric pressure. All these factors may cause damage to the eardrum resulting in Hearing Deficit.
Some of the causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss are:
- Genetic Conditions
- Head injury
- Injury to the ears
- Complications during pregnancy or birth
- Infections like chickenpox and brain tumors
- Loud noise such as an exposure to loud music during a concert
What are the Symptoms of Hearing Deficit?
There are a few symptoms through which one can understand that an individual has a Hearing Deficit. These symptoms are:
- Inability to hear communication or communicate properly
- Asking people to repeat themselves far too often
- Needing help of others to understand what is being taught or said in a meeting or class
- Inability to hear telephone or doorbell ringing
How is Hearing Deficit Diagnosed?
Once the individual presents with the above mentioned symptoms to a physician, he or she will be directed to an audiologist. The patient will then have to undergo extensive examination of the ear looking for any buildup of wax or dirt in the outer layer. In order to identify any problems with the inner ear, the audiologist will utilize a special device which will be put behind the ear and the sounds will be transmitted directly to the inner ear. This will give the audiologist a fair idea as to whether there is any abnormality in the transmission of sound waves causing Hearing Deficit.
The audiologist may also place a probe at the entrance of the ear canal to see if there is any issue with the cochlea which may be a cause for the Hearing Deficit. Based on the results of the tests, the audiologist will formulate a treatment plan for the patient to treat Hearing Deficit.
How is Hearing Deficit Treated?
The treatment for Hearing Deficit is variable and depends on the underlying cause. If the Hearing Deficit is caused due to an infection like Otitis Media then draining the pus and clearing the infection with use of antibiotics is good enough to treat Hearing Deficit with the hearing of the individual normalizing post-treatment. In case if accumulation of was and dirt is causing Hearing Deficit then cleaning of the ear is recommended to restore normal hearing.
Surgery is recommended to treat inner ear problems, a tear in the eardrum, or problems with the cochlea causing Hearing Deficit. The surgery tends to correct the problem and restore normal hearing of the patient. If the damage to the inner ear or cochlea is beyond repair and the Hearing Deficit is believed to be permanent then hearing aids may be prescribed to aid with hearing for the patient.
Hearing aids are fitted by the audiologist. The type of hearing aid required depends on the severity of the deficit. The hearing aid amplifies the sound so that the patient can hear what is being said normally. In cases, where even hearing aids are not helpful in assisting a patient to hear normally then a cochlear implant is suggested to restore normal hearing and treating Hearing Deficit.
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