Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease and heredity.
People with hearing loss may have difficulty maintaining conversations with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctor’s advice, responding to warnings, and hearing bells and alarms.
More than 5% of the world’s population, or 466 million people, have disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is estimated that by 2050 more than 900 million people, or one in ten people, will have a disabling hearing loss.
Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in the better ear in adults and hearing loss greater than 30 dB in the better ear in children.
Most people with disabling hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries.
Most children with hearing loss are born to parents with normal hearing. That means the whole family may have a lot to learn about living with this condition.
Causes of hearing loss and deafness
The causes of hearing loss and deafness can be congenital or acquired.
Congenital causes can lead to hearing loss that is present or acquired shortly after birth. Hearing loss can be caused by both inherited and non-inherited genetic factors or by certain complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including
- Maternal rubella, syphilis or other infections during pregnancy.
- Low birth weight.
- Birth asphyxiation (lack of oxygen at birth).
- Inappropriate use of particular medications during pregnancy, such as aminoglycosides, cytotoxic drugs, anti-malarial drugs and diuretics.
- Severe jaundice in the newborn period, which can damage the auditory nerve in a newborn.
Acquired causes can lead to hearing loss at any age, such as
- Infectious diseases including meningitis, measles and mumps.
chronic ear infections.
- Accumulation of fluid in the ear (otitis media)
- Use of certain medications, such as those used in the treatment of neonatal infections, malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and cancers.
- Injury to the head or ear.
- Excessive noise, including occupational noise such as machinery and explosions.
- Recreational exposure to loud sounds such as the use of personal audio devices at high volumes and for extended periods and regular attendance at concerts, nightclubs, bars and sporting events
- Aging, particularly due to degeneration of sensory cells; and
wax or foreign bodies blocking the ear canal.
Among children, chronic otitis media is a common cause of hearing loss.
Types of implants
There are different types of middle ear implants, but their function is the same: to assist in the mechanical transmission of sound waves to the inner ear (cochlea).
The newest in the market and with better results are the baha implants.
What is the baha implant?
A BAHA implant is a medical hearing aid device that is connected to the external skull and is able to restore hearing clarity for people with a profound hearing loss.
Most typical hearing systems transmit sound through air conduction, while a BAHA hearing system stimulates the cochlea by conducting sound waves through the skull, stimulating the auditory nerve directly.
Bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA)
The bone-anchored hearing system (BAHA) uses a surgically implanted titanium element to transmit sound to the inner ear via bone conduction.
This avoids the ear canal and the middle ear.
How it works
A sound processor picks up the sound vibrations; a connecting abutment transfers the sound to mechanical vibrations from the BAHA device to the implant; a small titanium implant, placed in the bone behind the ear, fuses with the living bone; this implant transfers the sound vibrations, through the skull, directly to the functioning cochlea.
Other types of treatments
CROS hearing aids
A CROS (Contralateral Routing Of Sound) hearing system transmits the sound from the poorer ear to the better ear.
A microphone/transmitter is placed behind or inside the poorer ear, where it picks up the sound and transmits it wirelessly to an amplifying system in the normal hearing ear. Hearing in the good ear is preserved and not completely affected.
Med-The BoneBridge is another type of bone-anchored auditory processing system. It is a semi-implantable hearing system, where the implant is placed completely under the skin. The implant receives signals from an external audio processor worn under the hair.
Types of hearing loss
Hearing loss comes in many forms. It can range from a mild loss, in which a person loses certain high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of women and children, to a total hearing loss.
There are two general categories of hearing loss:
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear.
The cause may be the accumulation of cerumen, fluid or a perforated eardrum. Medical treatment or surgery can usually restore conductive hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or sudden deafness, is a rapid hearing loss.
It can happen to a person all at once or over a period of up to 3 days. It should be considered a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss, see a doctor immediately.
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, occurs gradually as a person ages.
It seems to run in families and can occur due to changes in the inner ear and the auditory nerve. Presbycusis can make it difficult for a person to tolerate loud sounds or hear what others are saying.
Age-related hearing loss usually occurs in both ears and affects them equally.
The loss is gradual, so someone with presbycusis may not realize that they have lost some of their ability to hear.
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Tinnitus is also common in the elderly. It is usually described as a ringing in the ears, but can also sound like a roaring, clicking, whistling or buzzing sound.
You can come and go. It can be heard in one or both ears, and can be loud or soft. Tinnitus is sometimes the first sign of hearing loss in older adults.
Tinnitus can accompany any type of hearing loss and can be a sign of other health problems, such as high blood pressure, allergies or as a side effect of medications.