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Hearing Loss


Discussions on "Hearing Loss" in "Health" forum.


  1. #1
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    Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss is the total or partial inability to hear sound in one or both ears.

    Complications of Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss can have a significant effect on your quality of life. Among older adults with hearing loss, commonly reported problems include:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • An often false sense that others are angry with you

    Unfortunately, most people affected by hearing loss live with these difficulties for years before seeking treatment — or never seek treatment at all. This may cause lasting problems for those who love you, as well, if you try to cope by denying your hearing loss or withdrawing from social interactions. Getting treatment can dramatically improve your quality of life. People who use hearing aids report the following benefits:

    • Greater self-confidence
    • Closer relationships with loved ones
    • Improved outlook on life, overall

    Family and friends of people who have begun using a hearing aid are even more likely to report these improvements in shared quality of life.


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    Re: Hearing Loss

    Causes of Hearing Loss

    • For some people, the cause of hearing loss is the result of a gradual buildup of earwax, which blocks the ear canal and prevents conduction of sound waves. Earwax blockage is a cause of hearing loss among people of all ages.
    • In most cases, however, hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear. Aging and prolonged exposure to loud noise may cause wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea that send sound signals to the brain. When these hairs or nerve cells are damaged or missing, electrical signals aren't transmitted as efficiently, and hearing loss occurs. Higher pitched tones may become muffled to you. It may become difficult for you to pick out words against background noise. Heredity may make you more prone to these changes.
    • Ear infection and abnormal bone growths or tumors of the outer or middle ear can cause hearing loss. A ruptured eardrum also may result in loss of hearing.

    Signs & Symptoms of Hearing Loss
    Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:

    • Muffled quality of speech and other sounds
    • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
    • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
    • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
    • Withdrawal from conversations
    • Avoidance of some social settings

    Diagnosis of Hearing Loss
    Tests to diagnose hearing loss may include:

    • General screening tests. Your doctor may ask you to cover one ear at a time to see how well you hear words spoken at various volumes and how you respond to other sounds.
    • Tuning fork tests. Tuning forks are two-pronged, metal instruments that produce sounds when struck. Simple tests with tuning forks can help your doctor detect hearing loss. A tuning fork evaluation may also reveal whether hearing loss is caused by damage to the vibrating parts of your middle ear (including your eardrum), damage to sensors or nerves of your inner ear, or damage to both.
    • Audiometer tests. During these more-thorough tests conducted by an audiologist, you wear earphones and hear sounds directed to one ear at a time. The audiologist presents a range of sounds of various tones and asks you to indicate each time you hear the sound. Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find out when you can barely hear. The audiologist will also present various words to determine your hearing ability.



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    Re: Hearing Loss

    Treatments of Hearing Loss

    If you have hearing problems, help is available. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss.
    Options include:

    • Removing wax blockage. Earwax blockage is a common reversible cause of hearing loss. Your doctor may remove earwax by loosening it with oil and then flushing, scooping or suctioning the softened wax out.
    • Hearing aids. If your hearing loss is due to damage to your inner ear, a hearing aid can be helpful by making sounds stronger and easier for you to hear. An audiologist can discuss with you the potential benefits of using a hearing aid, recommend a device and fit you with it. In some cases, you may be satisfied with an inexpensive, over-the-ear microphone device available at electronic stores. You may need to try more than one device to find one that works well for you.
    • Cochlear implants. If you have severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be an option for you. Unlike a hearing aid that amplifies sound and directs it into your ear canal, a cochlear implant compensates for damaged or nonworking parts of your inner ear. If you're considering a cochlear implant, your audiologist, along with a medical doctor who specializes in disorders of the ears, nose and throat (ENT), will likely discuss the risks and benefits with you.

    Prevention of Hearing Loss

    • Wax buildup can frequently be flushed out of the ear (gently) with ear syringes (available in drug stores) and warm water. Wax softeners (like Cerumenex) may be needed if the wax is hard and impacted.
    • Care should be taken when removing foreign bodies. Unless it is easy to get to, have your health care provider remove the object. Don't use sharp instruments to remove foreign bodies.

    When to seek Medical Advice
    Talk to your doctor if you have difficulty hearing. Your hearing may have deteriorated if you find that it's harder to understand everything that's said in conversation, especially when there's background noise; if sounds seem muffled; or if you find yourself having to turn the volume higher when you listen to music, the radio or television.



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