Hearing impairment normally increases with age. However, newborns also can have this defect as congenital. Conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss are the two types of hearing loss. Different causes trigger different symptoms of loss of hearing. A profound loss of hearing can occur suddenly. Head injuries or viral infection in the ear can cause loss of hearing. Some may lose the hearing sense gradually. The obvious symptoms of hearing impairment are ringing sound or whistling sound in the ears, dizziness and imbalance.
How hearing impairment is diagnosed
In the United Kingdom, newborn babies undergo tests within the first two days after birth. The screening tests enable early detection of hearing impairment. The treated children will be able to communicate well at later stage. A tiny probe is inserted in the child’s ear. This test can be done even when child is sleeping. The response of cochlea to the sounds emitted from the probe is recorded and analysed. If there is no response to this test, further tests are carried out to know the exact cause. Your child may not able be aware of the hearing loss. However, if you feel that your child suffers from hearing loss, you should take the child to your GP at the earliest.
For adults, the doctor tests them using a sound generator, and speaking at various pitches and different volumes. The GP may refer you to an ENT specialist or an audiologist. They perform further tests to find out the cause and plan a treatment.
The audiologist performs audiometry, a test for hearing. They place earphones and play sounds of different frequencies and volumes. They get your feed back on hearing to assess the sense of hearing. They speak some words at different volumes and ask the patient to repeat them.
When I need to visit my GP for diagnosis
You should visit your GP if you have conditions including the following:
- Heard hearing during telephonic talks
- Difficulty in listening when two or more persons talk
- Necessity for you to have high volumes to hear from a player or TV
- Requiring much concentration to grasp a speech
- Not hearing the calling bell sound or telephone ringing
- Difficult in judging the direction from where the sound comes
- Regular request for repeating a word to hear properly
- Difficulty in understanding women and children voice
- Working in a noisy environment
- You feel that people are just moving the lips without any sound
- You have mishearing
- Ringing noise in the ears
- Suggestion from your friends and relatives that you may be suffering from hearing loss
How hearing impairment is treated
The hearing impairment is permanent in most of the cases. Bringing back the hearing sense to the normal level may be difficult, but the hearing loss can be compensated largely. Hearing aids amplify the sounds to provide you a better hearing. Hearing aids can distinguish between background and foreground noises. Volume of the hearing aids is adjustable to suit your requirement. You may need to visit the audiologist for follow up treatment. However, profound hearing impairment cannot be compensated this way.
Profound deafness can be treated with cochlear implants. This is possible only if the auditory nerves are in good condition. Adults, as well as children, can undergo this treatment if hearing aid is not a solution for them.