Hearing Impairment

~Abigail Swinson~

1. What Is Hearing Impairment?

Conductive hearing loss results from a problem with the outer or middle ear, including the ear canal, eardrum, or ossicles. A blockage or other structural problem interferes with how sound gets conducted through the ear, making sound levels seem lower. In many cases, conductive hearing loss can be corrected with medications or surgery.

Sensorineural (pronounced: sen-so-ree-nyour-ul) hearing loss ory nerve. The most common type is caused by the outer hair cells not functioning correctly. The person has trouble hearing clearly, understanding speech, and interpreting various sounds. This type of hearing loss is permanent. It may be treated with hearing aids.

2. What Causes Hearing Impairment?

Some of the things that can cause hearing impairment are injuries to the ear or head, injuries such as a skull fracture can cause hearing loss.

Another thing is loud noise, a sudden loud noise or exposure to high noise levels (such as loud music) over time can cause permanent damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea, which then can't transmit sounds as effectively as they did before.

Meadications can also make you have hearing imparment, Certain medications, such as some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can cause hearing loss.

There are some things that can make you have hearing impairment.

3. How Do Doctors Diagnose It?

Hearing loss can be difficult to diagnose in infants and babies because they haven't yet developed communication skills. All babies are screened before they leave the hospital to see if they have hearing loss. Sometimes parents may begin to notice that the baby doesn't respond to loud noises or to the sound of voices.

Certain symptoms in teens should prompt a trip to the doctor. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you should let your parents or doctor know if:

  • You feel that people mumble or that their speech is not clear, or you hear only parts of conversations when people are talking.
  • You often ask people to repeat what they said.
  • Friends or family tell you that you don't seem to hear very well.
  • You don't laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story
  • You need to ask others about the details of a class or meeting you attended.
  • People say that you play music or your TV too loudly.
  • You can't hear the doorbell or telephone.

The doctor will do an ear exam and, if necessary, refer someone with these symptoms to an audiologist, a health professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating hearing problems. The audiologist will do various hearing tests that can help detect where the problem might be. For example, to test the function of the inner ear, the audiologist can put a special device behind the ear that transmits tones directly there. This helps to distinguish between inner ear and middle or outer ear problems. For other tests, the audiologist will use a small probe place at the entrance of the ear canal and record tiny responses from the cochlea.

A person may also need to see an otolaryngologist (pronounced: o-toe-lar-en-gah-luh-jist), a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat problems.

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