Hearing Loss Treatment
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is characterized by an inability or reduced ability to hear. The condition makes it difficult to hear speech and other sounds. Otorhinolaryngologists (also known as ENT surgeons) are medical specialists who treat patients for temporary or permanent hearing loss.
What are the different types of hearing loss?
There are several types of hearing loss, and they generally fall into one of three categories – sensorineural, conductive or mixed.
Sensorineural: This type of hearing loss occurs as a result of damage to the tiny hair cells located in the inner ear. Age-related hearing loss, known as Presbyacusis, is an example of this type of hearing loss, as well as noise-induced hearing loss from prolonged exposure to high volumes.
Conductive: This type of hearing loss occurs when the ear is unable to conduct sound from the outer ear through to the inner ear via the middle ear without having the sound become blocked or reduced.
Mixed hearing loss: This happens when there are issues with conducting sound from the outer ear to the inner ear while hair cells are also damaged.
Hearing loss can occur in just one ear, which is referred to as unilateral hearing loss. Sudden hearing loss is also a possibility.
What are the causes of and risk factors for hearing loss?
Age and prolonged exposure to noise are the most common causes for hearing loss – about half of all people will experience some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach 80 years of age.
Many common activities can be too noisy, such as going to concerts, listening to portable music with the volume too high, or working in a noisy environment such as a factory.
Beyond age and noise level, many other factors can lead to this condition, including:
· Certain diseases and infections
· Physical damage to the ear or a malformation
· Genetic factors
· Tumors that form in the head
· Use of alcohol and tobacco
· Having high cholesterol
Did you know?
Singapore’s native sign language is called Singapore Sign Language (SgSL). It was developed from when the first school for the Deaf opened in 1954. SgSL draws influence from Shanghainese Sign Language, American Sign Language, Signing Exact English, and locally developed signs. ¹
What are the possible complications of hearing loss?
Hearing loss can not only result in a lower quality of life, but the condition can also be disabling. Worldwide, billions of dollars are lost every year in lost productivity due to hearing loss and the inability to work.
When should I see a specialist for hearing loss?
You should see a specialist as soon as you suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss or if you are experiencing pain in your ear. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your chances are at having successful treatment.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
Prepare for an appointment with a hearing specialist is painless. You just need to make sure you have your entire medical history on hand; an explanation of your symptoms and a list of your medications to ensure your specialist has your full medical history.
If you are feeling unwell or have a cold, you should reschedule because these conditions can interfere with a hearing test.
How do specialists screen for and diagnose hearing loss?
Specialists can screen for and detect hearing loss using simple tests and exams, including:
A physical exam: The specialist can look in the ear to see if there is any obvious blockage or damage that could be affecting your ability to hear. The specialist can also have you cover one ear at a time to determine what you are able to hear him/her say at varying volumes.
Turning fork tests: Specialists can use a two-pronged metal instrument that makes sound when hit to detect hearing loss. This test can reveal whether your hearing loss is due to damage to vibrating parts of the middle ear, damage to sensors or both.
Audiometer tests: These are more thorough tests in which you wear earphones and hear sounds in one ear at a time. When you hear the sound, you are told to raise your hand to indicate hearing it.
What treatments are available for hearing loss?
If you have trouble hearing, take solace in the fact that you have a few different treatments available to you. The extent to which these treatments can help will depend on the cause of your hearing loss. Treatment options include:
· Hearing aids
· Cochlear implants (for severe hearing loss)
· Removing wax blockages (if applicable)
· Surgery, which is appropriate if you have suffered traumatic injury to your ears or repeated infection
 About Sign Language. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2017, from https://sadeaf.org.sg/about-deafness/about-sign-language/