Hearing Loss

Partial or profound deafness is a common condition, which may develop with age or is a result of a disease/injury or is present right from birth. A lot of people lose some degree of their hearing capacity as they grow old. In fact, many consider hearing loss as a sign of ageing. Hearing impairment can bring down one’s confidence level and severely affect social interaction, which may lead to depression and isolation as well.

Types & Causes
There are two types of hearing loss, a) conductive and b) sensorineural. While conductive hearing loss is often temporary, sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent.

a) Conductive hearing loss:
This type of hearing impairment is caused due to failure of the outer or middle ear to transmit sound to the inner ear. The most common factor responsible for such a hearing loss in children is chronic secretary otitis media. The middle ear, in this condition, gets filled with fluid and subsequently gets infected as well. Blockage of the ear canal is the main reason for conductive hearing loss in adults. Sometimes, it can also be because of sudden change on air pressure or a ruptured eardrum. Although very rarely, such a condition may occur due to immobilisation of the tiny bones in the middle ear, which in turn, are unable to transmit sound.

b) Sensorineural hearing loss:
It is a common sign of ageing and mostly affects people above the age of 70. The condition is generally due to the deterioration of the cochlea, which occurs mainly because of ageing. Apart from this, the condition may also result from damage to the cochlea due to excessive noise or by the inner-ear disease called Meniere. Certain medicines are toxic to the inner ear and can deteriorate  hearing capacity. On rare occasions, hearing impairment can be a result of a tumour that affects part of the brain or the vestibulocochlear nerve.

Examining the ear is the first step of the treatment. The person will have to undergo some hearing tests that will determine the type and seriousness of the problem. Conductive hearing loss can be treated successfully and the hearing capacity can be restore to near normal. When the loss is permanent, such as sensorineural hearing loss, a hearing aid may be helpful. If the person can hardly hear anything due to sensorineural deafness, electrodes are surgically implanted in the cochlea. This may improve the condition. If the initial tests suggest that a tumour of the vestibulocochlear nerve is responsible for the deafness, the nerve will be examined through an MRI scan and will be treated accordingly.

By the age of 60 years, around 60% of men and 40% of women start snoring