Having a hearing impairment, a range of deafness, or hearing loss involve complete or limited ability to hear. Indications of these could be mild, moderate, severe, or serious.
Individuals who suffer from mild hearing impairment could have issues with comprehending speech, particularly if there are a lot of surrounding noises. Those who suffer from moderate deafness could benefit from using a hearing aid.
Those who have severe deafness may engage in lip-reading as a means of communication, while others with profound deafness and the inability to hear anything at all are completely dependent on lip-reading or using sign language.
Causes of Deafness:
The inner ear has some of the most delicate bones in the body. Any damage caused to the eardrum or middle ear could cause a range of hearing loss or deafness.
Hearing Loss and Deafness
Hearing loss is defined as a diminished ability to hear in the same way as those who have normal hearing.
Deafness occurs when an individual can’t comprehend speech through hearing, even with amplified sound.
Profound Deafness is defined as a complete absence of hearing. A person who suffers from profound deafness cannot recognize sound at all.
How severe one’s hearing impairment is can be classified by how much louder volumes must be set at in order for them to identify a sound.
Some characterize profoundly deaf and completely deaf in the same manner. On the other hand, some characterize being diagnosed with profound deafness as being the end of the hearing spectrum.
What is the Process of Hearing?
Sound waves penetrate the ear, make their way down the ear or auditory canal, and come in contact with the eardrum, which then vibrates. The vibrations from the eardrum pass through three bones - the ossicles - located in the middle ear.
The ossicles intensify the reverberations, and are then gathered by small hair-like cells located in the cochlea.
These hair-like cells move when they come in contact with vibrations, and that movement data is transferred through the auditory nerve towards the brain. The brain will then process the data, which is then interpreted as sound.
3 Categories of Hearing Loss
1. Conductive Hearing Loss - This is when reverberations do not pass through the outer ear and into the inner ear, specifically the cochlea. This type of hearing loss can happen due to:
Ear infections could leave behind scar tissue, which may reduce the function of the
Eardrum. The ossicles could be harmed due to infection, trauma, or becoming fused
Together by a syndrome known as ankylosis.
2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss - Hearing loss can be caused by an impaired inner ear, cochlea, auditory nerve, or brain damage.
This type of hearing loss is generally caused by hair cells that are damaged in the cochlea. As people age, the hair cells lose function, and hearing abilities worsen.
Continuous exposure to loud noises, particularly high-frequency sounds, is an additional cause of hair cell damage. Damaged hair cells can’t be recovered. There are researchers currently considering the use of stem cells to produce new hair cells.
Total deafness in relation to sensorineural hearing loss could happen due to congenital deformities, inner ear infections, or trauma to the head.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss - this is a merge between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Persistent ear infections could damage the eardrum and the ossicles. In some cases, surgery might restore one’s hearing, but it is not always sufficient.
4 Degrees of Deafness or Hearing Impairment
Treating Different Ranges of Hearing Loss
There are resources to help those of every type of hearing loss. The treatments depend on the cause and severity of the deafness.
There is no cure for sensorineural hearing. If the hair cells in the cochlea are destroyed, they cannot be repaired. There are different treatments and methods to improve a person’s hearing health.
There are a variety of hearing aids that come in all shapes, sizes, circuitries, and degrees of strengths.
Hearing aids cannot cure deafness. They intensify sounds for the listener to hear more clearly.
Hearing aid devices have an amplifier, a battery, loudspeaker, and microphone. Modern hearing aids are small, discreet, and fit inside the ear canal. Today’s hearing aids can help wearers differentiate between background and foreground noises.
Hearing aids would not be appropriate for someone who has profound deafness.
Custom made hearing aids can be created by taking an impression of the ear to make sure the device has a snug fit to the ear. It will be adjusted according to an individual’s auditory needs.
Types of hearing aids include:
These hearing devices have a dome known as an earmold, and a case that links one device to the other. The case rests behind the outer region of the ear, and the connection to the dome goes down the front of the ear. The sound travels electrically or acoustically to the ear.
BTE hearing aids typically last longer than other hearing devices. This is due to the fact that electrical elements are found outside of the ear, which causes less damage from earwax and moisture. These hearing aids are commonly used by children who need a durable device that is simple to use.
These hearing devices fill the outer part of the ear canal and are visible. Ear inserts that are soft and generally made of silicone, are used to keep the loudspeaker inside the ear. These hearing aids fit most wearers immediately and tend to have better quality of sound.
Completely in the canal (CIC)
These are small, discreet hearing aids that are not recommended for those who suffer from severe hearing loss.
Bone conduction hearing aids
These hearing aids amplify sounds for those with conductive hearing loss, in addition to those who cannot wear traditional hearing aids. The device has a part that vibrates and it is held against the mastoid using a headband. The vibrations travel through the mastoid bone, towards the cochlea. These hearing aids can be painful or cause discomfort if they are worn for an extended period of time.
If you, or a loved one, suffer from any range of hearing loss, please schedule an appointment with one of our hearing instrument specialists for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer affordable hearing aids at discount prices.