When sound waves reach our ears it causes the ear-drum to vibrate. The sound wave is then passed to three small bones known as ossicles inside the middle ear. The ossicles amplifies the signal and then passes it to the inner ear where tiny hair like cells vibrates in response and send signals to the audio nerve of our brain, which finally enables us to hear the sound. In this world there are many people who have problems with hearing or are born deaf. This is referred to as hearing impairment or deafness. Some have this problem from birth and many may develop this problem with the passage of time.

There are three different types of hearing impairment: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. The sensorineural hearing loss is caused due to damage into the cochlea or our auditory nerve. The conductive hearing loss is caused due to problem of sounds being passed from the outer ear to the inner ear due to some blockage, infection or disorder. The mixed hearing loss is affected by both the above types at the same time.

Causes of hearing impairment

The common causes of hearing impairment are:

  • The inner ear is damaged due to prolonged exposure to loud noise or even due to aging.
  • Build up of ear wax over a period of time can lead to hearing loss and it is common in all ages. Removal of earwax will resolve the issue.
  • An infection in the ear or due to some abnormal growth of bone in the outer or inner ear can also lead to hearing loss.
  • Rupture of the eardrum due to infection, sudden increase in pressure, loud blast or poking ear using some pointed object can also lead to hearing loss.

Other than these factors hearing impairments can be hereditary or due to illness or medications.

Symptoms of hearing impairment

  • Asking the people around you to speak slowly, loudly and clearly.
  • A sudden increase in the volume of TV or radio than the volume required in the past
  • Not able to understand words properly especially with background noises.
  • Hearing the sounds like being spoken from the wrath of cloth
  • Retirement from conversation or avoiding social interaction.

Treatments

Treatment can help to get back to normal life and provide more confidence to interact with people. The treatment depends upon the cause and its severity levels:

  • Ear wax removal: If you are having a hearing problem due to prolonged build up of ear wax then visit your doctor for its removal. The doctor will use oil to loosen it, flush and finally scoop it out or suck it out.
  • Using hearing Aid: If there is damage in your inner ear, then using a hearing aid will amplify the sounds and make it clear. You need to try one or two devices to check which one fits you the best.
  • Implant of Cochlear: This is done in case of severe hearing loss. Cochlear implants can solve the problem of severe damage to your inner ear. You need to consult an ENT specialist for a cochlear implant.

Hearing impairment can lead to complications in a person’s life like depression, anxiety and sense of feeling that everyone is angry with you as the person is unable to cope up with the society. A good support is needed from our near ones so that the person concerned doesn’t feel depressed.