07 Jun 2019


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


  • 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


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


  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 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


  • 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


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

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