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  • Hearing loss and deafness, today’s basics, updated.
    27 Feb , 2017










    Hearing loss and deafness, today’s basics, updated.

    (In our ever-changing technological world it is sometimes a good idea to go back to the basics, and then see what improvements or advancements have been made).


    When a stone is thrown into water, waves spread in circles. Similarly a sound source spreads waves, which are perceived by the ears. Sound is measured in decibels. For Example, the rustling of leaves is low decibel sound, whereas loud sounds, like fire-crackers, produce discomfort to the ear. Hearing loss is the reduced ability to hear. Deafness is the complete inability to hear.


    There are different kinds of hearing loss which occur for different reasons.


    Conductive hearing loss occurs when something blocks sound waves from reaching the inner ear.


    Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear or to the nerves that send sound to the brain.


    Presbycusis, or age-associated hearing loss, also has a genetic component. It makes one deaf over a period of time, as they age due to the slow decay of sensitive hair cells lining the inner ear.


    Apart from aging, other causes of hearing loss are circulatory problems, diseases, such as diabetes, and long-standing exposure to noise. Without the hair cells recognizing sounds, hearing becomes difficult or impossible.




    Conductive hearing loss and deafness may at times be treatable by removing the cause of the blockage, for example, wax in the ear canal or fluid in the middle ear. “OTOSCLEROSIS”, a term used for thickening of middle ear bones, can be treated with surgery or with amplification of sound by using hearing aids.


    Sensorineural hearing loss or deafness tends to be permanent because it involves damage to nerves or to the inner ear hair cells. The only method of treatment is a hearing aid worn in the ear, (a device that amplifies the volume of sound electronically). Now a days, most of the new hearing aids are programmable to make them more effective for use in a variety of situations. These include noisy environments, talking on the phone, the newest interact with other electronic devices, Bluetooth devices and the internet. Also, for Sensorineural hearing loss, the most recent advances are in cochlear implants.


    In order to understand a cochlear implant, it’s a good idea to understand how natural hearing works first.


    The process of how your ears hear naturally on their own:


    The Ear Canal: Sound moves through the ear canal and strikes the eardrum.


    Eardrum and Bones: The eardrum vibrates the bones in the middle ear.


    Inner Ear: This motion causes the fluid in the inner ear to move hair cells.


    Hearing Nerves: Hair cells change the physical movement into an electrical impulse, which is sent to the brain via nerves and enables a person to hear normally.


    How a cochlear implant allows a recipient to hear:


    A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, (which make sounds louder), a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged hair cells of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.


    Who is Eligible to receive a cochlear Implant?


    A number of medical and audiological assessments are required to determine if as person is candidate for Cochlear Implant.


    Generally, the following criteria apply:


    * The potential recipient must have a severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.
    * They must gain little or no benefit from the use of hearing aids.
    * The inner ear must be free from infection.
    * They must be medically suitable to undergo surgery.


    Expectations From A Cochlear Implant:


    How much benefit a person receives from a Cochlear Implant depends on the following factors:
    * Duration of deafness
    * Amount of residual hearing
    * Age at Implantation
    * Status of the hearing nerve
    * Post-operative rehabilitation
    * Motivation, and family commitment


    Benefits of a Cochlear Implant:
    Some of the benefits of a Cochlear Implant are:
    * All implant users have increased access to environmental sounds.
    * Many enjoy the ability to fully understand speech, without the need to continue lip-reading.
    * Many can appreciate music. (Sometimes, for the very first time).


    Source: Dailyexcelsior, H. Michael Teran
    Image credit: pinterest