Hearing loss can be categorized into three different types: conductive hearing loss, sensory neural hearing loss and mixed type hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss :
Is a hearing loss when there is a failure of sound waves reaching the inner ear through the normal air conduction channels of the outer and middle ear. The loss could be due to a simple blockage of the ear canal by wax or more complicated permanent damage to the ear drum as a result of repeated ear infections. Surgical advice and referrals to leading consultants can be facilitated.
Sensory neural hearing loss:
Is a loss affecting inner ears ability to process sound normally? Sensory neural hearing loss is almost always permanent and caused by damage to the hair cells in the cochlea and auditory nerve..
Presbyacusis is the name for age related hearing loss; it is usually caused by the loss of hair cells in the inner ear, but may also be the result of the deterioration of the nerves in the ear. Presbyacusis is the commonest cause of sensory neural hearing loss in the over fifty five age group
Mixed Type hearing loss
A mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensory neural and conductive hearing loss types at the same time.
Signs of hearing loss
Loss of sensitivity with sensory neural hearing loss is common; with this loss hearing soft speech is difficult. Turning up the TV or speaker may help compensate for a mild loss in sensitivity. Commonly the louder the sound becomes, perception is just as muffled.
Presbyacusis ( sensory neural hearing loss ) suffer loss of high frequencies. Consonants such as s, t, f, p, k and combinations of consonants such as th, sh, all make it difficult for hearing impaired people to understand a conversation.
Discrimination loss is common to people with hearing impairment, and so making it difficult to understand speech in noisy surroundings. Sufferers will say I hear well in quiet one to one situations, but when back ground noise is present they have problems .As the noise masks or covers speech sounds.
As your hearing deteriorates the sensory deprivation as experienced will be more of a disability when the temporal stimulation is hindered. With age it is important to maintain and optimise your senses, otherwise a slow degradation will occur. Listed below are common problems experienced by hearing umpaired.
Undiagnosed hearing loss can lead to :
• Anxiety and irritability ,Stress, depression and paranoia
• Anger and helplessness ,Isolation, loneliness and social withdrawal
• Increased risk to personal safety ( i.e. fire alarms)
• Reduced job productivity and costly errors
The signs of a hearing loss:
• Difficulty hearing in noisy environments e.g. cafe’s or in the work place
• Misunderstanding of conversation .responding inappropriately to conversation
• Undue fatigue and stress at the end of day.
• Staying at home to avoid social situations
• Making costly errors at the work place
• Having your TV turned up to a high volume
• Trouble hearing certain voices like women or children
The causes of a hearing loss are:
• Normal Ageing (Presbyacusis)
• Exposure to excessive loud noise levels
• Ear Infections or trauma or disease
• Reaction to drugs (ototoxicity)
• Congenital and genetic defects
• illnesses and certain medications
• Disorders of balance can be associated with hearing loss
Is a three stage process. Acclimatising to the devices itself, manipulation, handling and getting used to it. Then rehabilitating to your acquired hearing loss, and finally centrally compensating via your auditory cortex. This is dependent on the severity of your hearing loss, the duration, having realistic expectations and neural plasticity of your brain. This process will determine your ability to adjust to the hearing aids.
Hearing aids help compensate for disorders of the ear by amplifying sound; however, their effectiveness also depends on the brains central auditory system’s ability to represent and integrate spectral and temporal information delivered by the hearing aid. The neural detection of time-varying acoustic cues contained in speech to be processed by each side of the brain for language on the left temporal lobe and auditory recognition of words on the right temporal lobe, is an important consideration when considering severity of hearing loss and complexity of hearing aids.
Hearing aids are chosen as appropriate for each individual; this will be ascertained on initial consultation considering your auditory needs.
Like the visual system, our hearing system distinguishes several qualities in the sound it detects. However, our hearing system does not fuse different sounds, in a way the visual system does when two different wavelengths of light are mixed to produce colour. To continue normal hearing function we need to be able to follow the separate melodic lines of several instruments as we listen to an orchestra or rock band. This is importance when considering hearing aids, as higher technology hearing aids have greater ability to differentiate sounds, to improve speech in noise.
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