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Hearing Impairment

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Hearing impairment describes a condition or situation where a person is not hearing as well as they should. This may mean that they have partial or full hearing loss, or that their hearing is impaired in some other manner such as by the addition of a ringing noise in the ears. Some hearing loss or impairment is temporary such as with tinnitus, while other forms of hearing impairment are permanent. Because some hearing impairment issues can worsen over time without treatment, it is essential to seek medical attention when first noting changes in hearing.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Hearing Impairment

There are a number of reasons that a person might suffer from hearing impairment including such things as heredity, malformed ear canals and ear drums, injury to ear drums or ear canal, blockage of ear canal and abnormal bone growth or tumors. Hearing impairment can be either temporary or permanent depending on the circumstances. The determinant factor in most cases is how the patient sustained the ear damage, such as if an illness was involved or an injury. Some types of hearing impairment will heal on their own while others require professional treatment from a physician.

Hearing loss is capable of seriously affecting ones quality of life. Adults who suffer from hearing impairments can experience anxiety and depression as well as a false sense that other people are angry with them. Many people who suffer from hearing impairments allow them to worsen for many years before finally seeking out treatment.

Signs, Symptoms and Tests of Hearing Impairment

Hearing impairments can take on many different forms, but the main basic symptom is that something is interfering with the persons ability to hear properly, or is causing a change in hearing. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of hearing loss include muffled speech or sounds, difficulty with understanding words, frequently requiring people to speak more slowly or more loudly, increasingly needing to turn up the radio or television volume, avoidance of social settings and withdrawal from social conversations.

When a patient is having a level of hearing impairment that is interfering with his or her daily life, then this is when seeing a physician is especially important. Physicians will begin with general screening tests to see how well the patient is hearing before moving to tuning fork tests and audiometer tests. Tuning fork tests entail producing different sounds in order to evaluate the level of hearing loss. Audiometers involve listening to sounds through earphones one ear at a time in order to determine where the damage is and how much impairment exists as a result.

Treatment, Drugs and Prevention of Hearing Impairment

The right type of treatment will depend on the cause for the hearing impairment. A common cause of hearing impairment is earwax blockage, which is curable by removing the blockage. If the hearing impairment is caused by something else, then there are treatment options in order to improve hearing or eliminate some of the impairment. Some examples include hearing aids, which help with damage to the inner ear and cochlear implants for severe forms of hearing loss. Hearing aids are customized to suit the individual patient depending on their level of hearing loss. Cochlear implants do not amplify sound the way that hearing aids do, but rather they compensate for non-working or damaged parts of the inner ear. These typically require the assistance of a specialist in ear, nose and throat care in order to properly prescribe them. Adequately identifying the cause for the hearing impairment is the only way to make sure that the right treatment options are explored as a result.