What is Hearing Impairment ?

A) Hearing Impairment

Sense of hearing is an important link in the chain of effective communication and plays a significant role in our social and emotional well being.

Millions of people worldwide are faced with hearing problems, only a minority wear hearing aids or even visit an audiologist. Hearing loss affects all age groups, without discrimination. Physiological changes that take place in hearing loss and is one of the most common causes for it.

Hearing loss does not only mean the inability to hear loud enough, it may also means a ‘discrimination loss’ i.e. difficulty in understanding and differentiating various speech sounds.

Untreated hearing loss or delay in treating hearing loss can have far reaching effects like poor or no language development and learning disability in children.

Hearing problems often make it difficult to “keep up”, which can lead to a sense of isolation, fatigue and loneliness. Poor language acquisition due to hearing loss can often be misinterpreted as a lack of intelligence or mental deficiency usually affecting life at school and work, as well as social interaction. Hearing loss invariably affects quality of life.

B) Incidence

It is estimated that approximately 27 million Americans over the age of 65, as many as 50% may be affected by hearing impairment.

C) What Is The Right Time To Go In For Testing Your Hearing?

Typically the first sign of hearing problem are often noticed by the family of the hearing impaired person. Usually they have
1. Difficulty understanding speech in noisy situation
2. Having to turn up the volume
3. Difficulty when talking over the phone

D) Evaluation

Complete evaluation may include PTA - Pure Tone Audiometry, Impedance Audiometry, Speech Audiometry & BSER (BERA). Just as you have cardiogram for the heart , you have an audiogram for hearing. It will help determine hearing thresholds at various frequency levels. It is from PTA that one can diagnose conductive loss from sensorineural loss objectively. In case of conductive loss, further evaluation can be carried out by doing Impendence Audiometry. BSER acts as an excellent objective diagnostic tool for high risk babies as well as for differential diagnosis in few cases of adults (E.g.: Acoustic Neuroma).

Whether hearing aid is necessary or not, is simply understood from PTA. The scientific manner of dispensing Hearing Aid involves PTA as first step, as the details of Audiometry acts as the base of the process of choosing && fitting a hearing aid to alleviate a particular hearing loss.

E) Type of Hearing Loss Treatment For Hearing Impairment

For Conductive Loss

In most of the cases it can be treated either medically or surgically. In rare cases hearing aid is required.

For Sensorineural Loss

Most of such cases whether since birth, or adulthood or due to aging - all cases benefit very well with Hearing Aid. In rare cases where the loss is due to impairment in the cochlea ( Inner Ear Organ ) Cochlear Implant ( Expensive Inner Ear Surgery ) could be suggested.

The hearing aid amplifies sounds in frequencies where the hearing loss is prevalent. They are primarily used to correct sensory neural loss, but can be used to rectify problems in the middle ear that cannot be alleviated through surgery.