- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Hearing Impairment: An Underrated Topic
What is Hearing Impairment
Did you know that the 3 small bones in your ear, the stapes, malleus and incus, together are small enough to be placed on a penny? Did you know that your hearing can be damaged permanently even with a single extreme incident of loud noise? Hearing loss or impairment is an individual’s inability to hear from one or both ears. It could be temporary or permanent and further categorized as mild, moderate, moderate-severe, severe or profound. If the problem persists since childhood, it could affect the person’s ability to speak as well.
According to estimates released by the WHO in 2012, around 360 million in the world suffer from some form of hearing impairment, which is adds up to 5.3% of the total population of the world. The figure includes 328 million adults and 32 million children.
Causes & Types
The major causes of hearing impairment include genetics, birth complications, exposure to noise, ageing and some infections, medications or toxins. It can be confirmed when a person is unable to hear 25 decibels in either of the ears. In metropolitan cities in India, including Bangalore, the best ENT specialists recommend a hearing test for all newborns.
Hearing impairment can be categorized in three types:
- Conductive hearing loss, which occurs due to problems with the ear drum, ear canal and ear bones.
- Sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs due to acoustic trauma, head trauma or meniere’s disease.
Mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of above mentioned types, is caused by damage to the middle, inner or outer ear and auditory nerve.
Emotional and Social Impact of Hearing Disorder
When you suffer from significant hearing loss and do not let people know about it, they might find you arrogant on not paying attention to their important statements. Individuals with hearing disorders deal with stress and fatigue most of their lives. They might even develop a negative attitude, becoming prone to irritability and anger. This is why it is important to address the problem as soon as possible and find the treatment, say some of the best ENT specialists in Bangalore. Hearing loss can occur at any age and should not be linked only to old age.
As stated by some experts, people don’t realize the effect of noise on their entire body. Instead of looking for solution, they will adjust themselves living next to a place full of loud noise and vehicles honking. The information is well illustrated in an article published in The Times of India on June 9, 2016. Loud music is one of the major reasons of police complaints around the world
Are Hearing Disorders Avoidable?
According to the WHO, around 60% hearing impairment cases can be prevented by immunization against different types of diseases, along with controlling noise pollution and managing the use of some medicines, according to a news article in The Times of India in March 2016. In India, it is estimated that around 6.3% of the total population suffers from speech and hearing impairment, including 50 lakh children.
A leading ENT specialist in Bangalore suggested that controlling chronic infection and sound pollution, along with good healthcare system is the most effective treatment for nerve deafness, which is induced by sound pollution and conductive deafness which is generated by poor hygiene. Hearing impairment can be prevented if detected at an early stage along with a constant control on noise pollution. Screening programs for infants and school students, along with proper hearing care training, will alter people’s thinking about hearing loss. The WHO recommends limited use of personal audio players to almost an hour in the whole day as the major action to prevent hearing disorders.
Always compare the dB ratings and look for low noise products. Beware of hazardous noise like music concerts, firecrackers and NASCAR. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, sign language, subtitles and lip reading are most useful technique to overcome the loss.