What is Hearing Loss ?
A reduced sensitivity to the sounds that can be heard normally. The problem of hearing impairment / hearing loss is due to the problem in either one or more parts of the ear.
Causes of Deafness
- Gradual Increase of Earwax : The development of ear wax can obstruct the ear canal and also preventing the transmission of sound waves. The blockage of the ear wax can cause conductive hearing loss that can be corrected by removing the earwax.
- Bursting of the Eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation) : the bursting of the ear drum can caused by many factors such as regular poking the eardrums that can result in infections, loud noises and unexpected changes in the pressure. All these can rupture the eardrum.
- Inner Ear Damage : Over exposure to the loud sounds can cause damage to the nerve cells or hair in the cochlea which transmits the sound signals to brain. As the nerve cell gets damaged, the electric signals cannot be transmitted properly that ultimately leads to hearing loss. The person can experience difficulty in picking out the words against background noises.
- Abnormal Bone Growths, Tumors or Ear Infections : Either in the outer region of the ear or in the middle of the ear, all these problems can lead to hearing loss.
The types of hearing loss/hearing impairment can be classified by knowing which part of the auditory system has been damaged. Sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and conductive hearing loss are the three types.
What is Stapedectomy?
The procedure by which the fixed stapes are removed and is then replaced with a prosthesis. This procedure enables the transmission of the sound vibrations to the inner fluids of the ear for the purpose of hearing. The condition that causes the problem of stapedectomy is Otosclerosis. Otosclerosis can be hereditary or can also affect without any prior family history. It generally involves about 2 % of the population. The problem of hearing is first noticed at the age of twenties and can lead to hearing loss in the later stages of the life.
Procedure of Stapedectomy
The surgical procedure is performed in which the middle ear innermost bone of the 3 bones ( Malleus, stapes and the incus) is removed. It is then replaced by a small plastic tube that surrounds a short length of wire made up of stainless steel.
Causes of Stapedectomy
The stapes fixation results in two chief causes. First is the abnormal mineralization of the otosclerosis (temporal bone) which is regarded as a disease process. The other cause is the stapes congenital malformation.
What is Tinnitus ?
Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus) is the condition where there is no other sound. It could be the sound of roaring, pulsing, clicking, hissing, whooshing and chirping. The condition of Tinnitus can either in one or in both ears. Cure for Tinnitus is possible in few medical conditions. Otolaryngologists and audiologists are trying to identify some methods for the Tinnitus treatment.
- Head injury
- Hearing loss
- Migraine headaches
- Excess drinking of coffee
- Meniere disease
- Some types of tumors
- Medicines or drugs that are toxic to hearing
- Excess wax in the ear
Hearing Loss Treatment
The treatment depends on whether the hearing loss is temporary (reversible hearing loss) or permanent. The permanent hearing loss can be treated with hearing implants and devices.
Reversible Treatment largely depends on its own causes -
- Injury to the head or ear may require surgery
- By consuming antibiotics, the middle ear infection can be cured
- Acoustic Neuroma and Otosclerosis requires surgery
- The problem of autoimmunity can be treated with the help of corticosteroid medicines.
Permanent Hearing Loss can be treated with the help of -
- Different hearing implant devices can be used for different types of hearing problems. Cochlear implant is one such implant.
- With the help of hearing implants, the sounds can be made louder. These hearing aids cannot correct the hearing problem but can help in communicating.
- Also alerting devices, communication aids and assistive listening devices can also be used.
What is Otosclerosis?
The fixation of the stapes bones happens as a result of abnormal growth in the small bones of the middle ear. The proper functioning of the ear depends on the free movement of the stapes bones. The process of hearing starts by first sending sound vibrations (from the outer ear) inside the ear canal and from there the sound vibrations hit the ear drum. The movement of the ear drum causes vibrations sends the vibrations into the three tiny bones- anvil (incus), stirrup (stapes) and hammer (Malleus). The hearing (auditory) nerve is stimulated when there is a movement of the stapes bone that sets the motion of the inner ear fluids. The sound energy is then transferred by the auditory nerve in the brain that leads in sound hearing.
- The person will start hearing whispers or low-pitched sounds
- Balance problems
- Hissing in the head or ears (tinnitus)
- Sensation of ringing
- Gradual hearing loss
Treatment for Otosclerosis
Otorlaryngologist can advise the use of hearing aids to increase the sound that will reach to the ear drum, provided if the hearing loss in not serious. The specialists can also advise Sodium fluoride that can slow the development of the disease. However, the most effective surgical method is Stapedectomy that improves hearing.
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