DEAFNESS

07 Jun 2019

ABSTRACT –

Deafness is the hearing impairment that is the loss in hearing either totally or partially

Four levels of deafness are:

  1. Mild deafness or mild hearing impairment
  2. Moderate deafness or moderate hearing impairment
  3. Severe deafness
  4. Profound deafness

CAUSES –

  • Noise
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Medical conditions like Chicken pox, Diabetes etc.
  • Perinatal problems like Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and premature birth
  • Medications like aminoglycosides, platinum based chemotherapeutics etc
  • Teenagers exposed to second hand smoke
  • Chemicals and heavy metals like lead, toluene etc.
  • Physical trauma

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS –

In infants:

  • Doesn’t turn the head towards a noise before the age of 4 months
  • The infant doesn’t utter a word till their 12 months of age
  • Aware of certain sounds only
  • Doesn’t startle by a loud noise
  • Responds in people’s presence but doesn’t respond when the person is out of sight

In toddlers and children:

  • Slow learning of oral communication
  • Unclear utterances while speaking
  • Difficulty in understanding the communication
  • Loud voice

In adults:

  • Trouble in using the phone
  • Difficulty in understanding speech under background noises
  • Increased volume required on television, radio etc.
  • Pain or pressure in ears
  • A blocked feeling in ears

Accompanying secondary symptoms can be:

  • Ringing or buzzing sound in ear
  • Vertigo and disequilibrium
  • Hyperacusis i.e. difficulty in sound perceptions
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Tympanophonia, i.e., abnormal hearing of one’s own voice and respiratory sounds

DIAGNOSIS –

  1. Physical examination
  2. General screening test
    • A tuning fork test
    • Audiometer test
    • Bone oscillator test
  3. The OtoAcoustic Emissions Test (OAE) for testing deafness in newborns
  4. Laboratory testing for infection or inflammation in ears
  5. MRI and CT scans

TREATMENT –

Treatment is given based on the cause and severity of deafness. Hearing loss due to age and noise is irreversible and progressive but some ways that can assist hearing are:

  1. Hearing aids
    • Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
    • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
    • Completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids
    • Bone conduction hearing aids
  2. Cochlear implants
  3. Surgery

PREVENTION –

  • Workplace noise regulation
  • Screening test at different ages
  • Avoid listening to TV, radio etc. at higher volume
  • Use headphones to block external sounds
  • Wearing earplugs in concerts, motor racing etc.
  • Do not prod cotton swabs in ears

EPIDEMIOLOGY –

Around 10% of people suffer from hearing loss globally which is more higher in geriatrics.

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