So I think this is something everyone can relate to. Everyone at some point or another has know someone who has suffered from hearing loss or was Deaf or maybe its them. My point is that even though everyone can relate to hearing loss and it is a pretty common thing within society, people are often misinformed about it. My purpose in this blog is to teach you a little bit about hearing loss ( another thing that greatly impacts my life) and what it is like to live with it.
There are 3 main types of hearing loss. There is conductive hearing loss, Sensorineural Hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss has to do with the middle and outer ear. In a conductive hearing loss it is usually a structural problem or some kind of disease or infection that is causing the hearing loss. In a sensorineural Hearing loss, there is a problem with the inner ear which is made up of the auditory nerves and cochlea. It is sensorineural hearing loss that we experience as we grow older. The final type is a mixed hearing loss, a mixed hearing loss is a mix of the two types of hearing loss. This can happen for a variety of reasons.
There are 4 different levels to which hearing losses are quantified: Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Profound. In the mild range, often you may not notice the person has a hearing loss, you may just think they weren't paying attention or missed what you were saying. Most things would be loud enough for a person with a mild hearing loss, it is just something like the ticking of a clock that would be lost. A moderate hearing loss is generally when you start to notice that something is wrong. In a moderate hearing loss, peoples voices generally aren't loud enough and a person may turn up the TV louder and louder. A severe hearing loss is when a person can barely hear anything at all. They are basically functioning with out sound. A profound hearing loss is when a person cannot hear anything at all or it has to be turned up to such a level that it would not be found in the outside world at that level so they are termed Deaf. Along with the different levels comes into play Frequency. Frequency is the tone of something or more accurately the pitch of it. Different sounds have different frequencies. If a person has a hearing loss within what is called the speach field they will have problems understanding speech without adapting such skills as lipreading. They will fail to hear things like S,or T. They will say a b and mean a t. to them it all sounds the same and they can't tell they are doing it.
Hearing aids are the most common compensation method used for hearing loss. They come in two categories Behind the ear and in the ear. The behind the ear hearing aids are the ones that have been used for decades. They provide the best chance for correcting moderate, and severe hearing losses. This is because the amplifier in the behind the ear hearing aids can be bigger because it does not have to fit inside the ear. Also if the hearing aids are for a child the behind the ear hearing aids can be used in conjuction with a microphone as an assisted listening device to help them in their classes to maximize all their hearing. The other type in the ear hearing aids are great for cosmetic reasons because they do not show as much as behind the ear hearing aids do, but adversly they usually cannot have as much power. Also some people may find it uncomfortable to have the hard plastic continually in the ear canal all day long.
Cochlear Implants are currently the only option for people who are profoundly Deaf. They work by placing electrodes into the cochlea to stimulate it and sending the signal to a trasmitter worn on the outside of the body. This then sends it to the auditory nerve and it continues to the brain and they hear sound like a normal person. Cochlear Implants are not perfect and cannot be used in people with any hearing because they will destroy that hearing.
My experience with hearing loss is a great one. I first was diagnosed when I was 4-5 years old with a mild hearing loss. All through school I had to sit up front and listen hard. Then when I reached about seventh grade my hearing started deterotating. I had gotten holes in my ear drums that they couldn't get to close from a life time of PE tubes ( to stop reoccurrent ear infections). I had a surgery done called a tympanoplasty by a new Ear Nose and Throat and it took. My hearing loss went from severe to on the borderline of mild and moderate. By the time I was a freshmen in High school I was testing profoundly deaf in one ear. My doctor decided to do an exploratory surgery to figure out why. It turns out that my bones had been eaten away by disease. He remade the bones but they didn't last too long. My hearing loss went back to moderate. As a sophmore it dipped down to severe in both ears and stayed there. They couldn't figure out why besides that I had a hole in my ear drum which they didn't want to opperate on. They reccommeded that I get hearing aids and just get on with my life. We did get the hearing aids but we also got a second opinion. I went to see the chief of Otolaryngology down at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. He reccomended closing the hole in my ear which he did about a year later and gave me back about 1/2 of my hearing. I now have a severe hearing loss on my right side a moderate on my left. The left had been up to mild due to the surgery but because of ear infections and perferations it has gone back down to moderate. I live with my hearing loss everyday. I end up looking at people when they talk so I can lip read them, I use hearing aids, I use a microphone in class, I have an alarm clock that vibrates to wake me up instead of making noise. All these things are directly caused by my hearing loss. But to me its just part of life.
I hope this helps you understand a little more about hearing loss!