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Progressive Hearing Loss in Children and Adults

Sunday, September 22, 2019 10:59:13 PM Asia/Calcutta

Do you know? Hearing loss is the third most common and leading health issues that affect people worldwide, and it can affect your relationships and deteriorate your quality of life. Although the most affected group is the old age, unfortunately, it might affect individuals belonging to any age group. And in most cases, progressive hearing loss is permanent and irreversible in nature. That means once you lose your hearing, it’s gone forever and you won’t be able to regain back your natural hearing. Hearing devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants can only help you to hear by amplifying the sounds for you and by making the most out of your residual hearing abilities. But they can do nothing more! So before you turn the volume higher, keep this in mind. Protect your valuable ears while you can, before you pay for it. Don’t take your ears for granted!

 

What is Progressive Hearing Loss?

Progressive hearing loss is when a mild or moderate hearing loss has been diagnosed and it worsens over time. Initially, it might start with a mild hearing loss that can worsen to a moderate or severe or even profound hearing loss over time. The change in hearing can occur over the years, months or even a few weeks. Sometimes a child might be born with normal hearing, but might begin to lose his or her hearing within 2-3 years. This is known as delayed onset hearing loss, which happens when a child is born with a virus that is not detected at birth until it shows up through various symptoms and conditions later. There might also be other problems at birth which can cause delayed onset hearing loss in children.

 

Progressive Hearing Loss in Children

The term ‘progressive hearing loss’ might crop up a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Since this cannot be identified by the children themselves, or even if identified, children won’t be able to express it properly, it is the duty of their parents to take notice of it and be informed about any changes in hearing. A single change might affect speech and language development in children, thus affecting developmental skills. Talk to your audiologist and routinely do your child’s hearing test and monitor any changes to take action as advised by your audiologist on an urgent basis.

 

What are the Causes?

One or more of the following causes might lead to progressive hearing loss in children -

  • Genetic factors

  • Certain illnesses like Meningitis causes hearing loss in children and which usually worsens over time

  • Middle ear infections like Otitis media

  • Certain ototoxic medicines might worsen the hearing abilities of a child, and it might continue worsening even after the child has stopped taking them

 

What are the Symptoms?

In children, progressive hearing loss might come along with the following symptoms -

  • The child is unable to hear what he or she was able to before

  • He or she often says ‘what?’ a lot more in the recent days than before

  • The child’s speech and language skills change (generally towards deterioration)

  • The child’s audiogram report changes from time to time and gradually becomes worse

  • Your child wants to hear the TV or the radio or to his or her favourite music louder than before

  • If your child is a user of hearing aids, he or she suddenly doesn’t want to wear them but before he or she didn’t mind wearing them

  • Your child is often complaining about getting dizzy or losing his or her balance

  • Your child has recently started facing problems at school due to her hearing loss.

If you notice some or all of the above symptoms, talk to your audiologist immediately. Perform a routine hearing check-up and go for some effective treatment of hearing loss or make improvements in it if your child is already a part of one. Do as suggested by your audiologist. He or she is the best judge in this case. Nobody else can understand your child’s hearing needs better.

 

What is the Solution?

Children with progressive hearing loss are generally treated with either of the two traditional and effective methods of hearing loss treatment - hearing aids or cochlear implants. For very young children who are yet to learn and develop speech and language skills are generally implanted with cochlear devices, which are very effective and helps the child to compete with his or her peers with normal hearing in developing communication skills well.

Talk to your child and tell him or her not to fear or worry about anything and that everything will be alright. Give your child the support he or she needs and never let him or her feel depressed. Make sure that you go for strong hearing aids to support his hearing abilities so that his or her speech and language skills are not hampered. Don’t compromise with anything here. And if your child is suffering from severe to profound hearing loss, then your audiologist might want to go for cochlear implantation. Do as required and as suggested because you can’t afford to ruin your child's future in any way. Keep a good track of your child’s activities at school and his or her progress in academics. In the meanwhile, you too have to be mentally strong. Talking to other parents, teachers, counsellors and of course, your audiologist might help.

 

Progressive Hearing Loss in Adults

High-frequency progressive hearing loss in adults happens gradually over time as the person begins to age, the condition which is termed as presbycusis. It happens due to damage caused to the tiny and sensitive hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. These little hair cells are responsible for hearing as they receive the sound vibrations as received from the outer ear after travelling via the middle ear where these sound signals are being amplified, and convert them into electrical impulses. These electrical signals are then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve where they are perceived as sounds.

If the hair cells are damaged, they won’t be able to convert these sound signals properly, thus would fail to transfer proper electrical signals to the brain. This would lead to hearing problems, and if this continues (that is if you leave your hearing loss untreated) it worsens the condition of your brain, thus gradually making it inactive. An inactive or dormant brain would fail to perceive sounds properly even if it receives sounds after a long time. This condition is known as Auditory Deprivation, in which the brain fails to recognise any sounds even if a person wears hearing aids. It needs time to adjust to this ‘new’ world of sounds from which it was deprived of for so long. This is why people often say that they can’t understand even if they can hear, especially while trying to comprehend speech.

Hair cells in the cochlea might be damaged or even lost due to overexposure to extremely loud decibels of noises. This happens over time and the process is so gradual that it often goes unnoticed until the damage is already done and that’s when the person already starts various problems related to hearing in his or her day-to-day life.

 

Symptoms of Prescubysis

  • Difficulty hearing high-frequency or high-pitched sounds, such as a whistle, a squeal, a scream, a child or woman’s voice, and consonant sounds like S, F, Th, Sh, V, K, and P.

  • Difficulty following conversations over the phone

  • Having the feeling that people are mumbling

  • Difficulty following conversations while in noisy listening situations, as your ears are unable to distinguish words in speech

  • Having the need to turn up the TV or radio volume more than usual and which is too loud for the other members of your family

  • Tinnitus or hearing ringing or hissing sounds even in the absence of any external sound

We have covered a detailed blog over the early signs of hearing loss. Do check it out once in the link that follows: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/Do-I-Have-Hearing-Loss-5-Early-Signs-and-Symptoms

Hearing loss treatment options like hearing aids might help a person with presbycusis or age-related hearing loss. However, he or she might also require auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) or speech therapy to help him or her to understand the semantic meaning of what he or she is listening, especially in speech.

We have a separate blog on age-related hearing loss, do consider going through it once to learn about the causes and how to deal with it: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/Ageing_and_Hearing_Loss

The best part about presbycusis is it is preventable. It is true that people are going to experience some kind of hearing problems as they start ageing. But you can take care to prevent it for as long as possible. In short, you can delay it and even lessen the impacts of hearing loss in old age. So take care of your precious pair of organs while you can and stay healthy.

Perforated Eardrum: Symptoms, Causes and Consequences

Sunday, September 15, 2019 11:59:51 PM Asia/Calcutta

While some are born with a perforated eardrum, in some people it happens in the course of their lifetime, due to various reasons like injuries or trauma or some infections or diseases. Whatever be the cause, the consequences of a ruptured eardrum are greater. The most serious effect of the condition is hearing loss. It might also make the internal and delicate parts of your ears vulnerable to various infections or injuries.

 

What is an Eardrum?

In human beings and other tetrapods (four-limbed animals), an eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin, cone-shaped membrane that separates the ear canal of the outer ear from the middle ear. The sound waves received by the outer ear strike against the eardrum and cause it to vibrate.

The function of the eardrum is to transmit the sound waves from the external ear to the ear ossicles in the middle ear. The middle ear then passes them over to the fluid-filled cochlea in the inner ear, which sends them to the brain after converting them into electrical impulses.

We have already covered a separate blog on the hearing mechanism of human beings, consider going through it: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/How-Do-We-Hear-An-Insight-into-Our-Hearing-Mechanism/

 

What is an Eardrum Rupture?

A ruptured or perforated eardrum is a hole or a tear in the tympanic membrane. Since the vibrations that are generated when sound waves enter our ears, and which are carried over to the ear ossicles of the middle ear, any tear or hole in the eardrum would not cause it to vibrate. This can hamper the transmission of the sound waves from the ear canal of the outer ear to the middle and inner ears respectively. As these vibrations are necessary for hearing, any damage caused to the tympanic membrane might cause hearing problems.

Although it is normally healed within a few days, in rare cases, however, a perforated eardrum can cause permanent hearing loss. In such a case, one must not delay in getting a proper hearing loss treatment such as hearing aids.

 

The Common Symptoms

  • Pain, which in some cases might be severe

  • Bleeding, especially if the rupture is caused by middle ear infections

  • Watery, bloody or pus-like fluid drainage from the affected ear

  • Temporary hearing loss

  • Tinnitus or hearing a constant ringing, buzzing or other such sounds in the affected ear even if there is no external sound present

  • Dizziness or spinning sensation (vertigo)

  • Nausea or vomiting that might result from vertigo

Consult a professional audiologist immediately without delay if you notice these symptoms. Also, develop the habit of getting your ears tested from time-to-time.

 

What are the Causes?

Here are some common causes of eardrum rupture -

  • Ear infections, especially in children or people with colds or flu

  • Middle ear infections like Otitis Media

  • Exposure to extremely loud noises or blasts

  • Severe head trauma or injury

  • Barotrauma - a condition when your ears fail to balance the atmospheric pressure with that of your ears. Results due to pressure changes, such as at higher altitudes or while scuba diving

  • If a foreign object gets inside your ear

  • Injury or trauma to the ear or any side of the head

 

What are the Consequences?

A ruptured eardrum might lead to -

  • Hearing loss

  • Ear infections like Otitis Media

  • Middle ear cyst

  • Ear injuries

 

What is the Solution?

A ruptured eardrum usually gets healed by itself within a few weeks. In certain cases, however, it needs to be repaired surgically.

Seek help immediately because you never know what might be the extent of the damage. If the condition is severe it might lead to hearing loss. And no hearing loss treatment can bring back your natural hearing ability if it is a permanent hearing loss.

A prolonged untreated hearing loss would come along with other consequences like depression and other emotional disbalances. Hearing aids might help in such cases to treat any loss of hearing, but you mustn’t wait that long!

Do I Have Hearing Loss? 5 Early Signs and Symptoms

Saturday, August 31, 2019 1:25:28 PM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing loss often comes in creepingly and gradually stealing your hearing ability without your knowledge until the damage is done. And in most of the cases, hearing loss is due to ageing - a condition known as presbycusis and is permanent in nature which is irreversible. In other words, once you lose your hearing, it is gone forever. You will, of course, be able to hear again with the help of hearing aids, but your natural hearing abilities won’t be recovered.

One doesn’t realise that hearing loss has already entered into one’s happy life until the individual starts facing various problems. You might start noticing changes in your hearing like missing out your favourite sounds or parts of an important conversation. All these changes are so gradual that often people with hearing loss can’t realise it until it’s quite too late.

You might think that people are mumbling or that the TV or the radio needs repairing because they are not as audible as before. But the fact is your hearing changed, so it is you who needs to consider taking part in a proper hearing loss treatment programme from a recognised hearing aid clinic.

So here are five most common signs of hearing loss which would help you to understand where the problem lies behind your missing out being a part of this beautiful world of sounds.

  • You have difficulty hearing consonant sounds. If you are old enough to have developed age-related hearing loss or presbycusis, then you could probably relate to this. Presbycusis usually comes with high-frequency hearing loss, that is one would not be able to hear the high-pitched sounds. In speech, one would have difficulties hearing the consonant sounds like S, F, Th, Sh, V, K, and P.

  • You can no longer hear the sounds of nature. When did you last hear the beautiful sounds like the birds chirping, or the pitter-patter of the rain, or the leaves rustling on the blowing of a gentle breeze? Yes, you have been missing them out for quite a long time.

  • Understanding conversations in crowded places is a challenge. For instance, if you are in a restaurant you would find it difficult to focus on what the person you are conversing with is trying to say. In such a situation, audiologists often suggest opting for advanced digital hearing aids with noise reduction features that would eliminate the background noises and help you stay focused on your conversation.

  • Listening is strainful for you! Hearing loss means you are bound to miss out on parts of the conversation you are taking part in. And naturally, you would try not to miss out any, and hence end up putting more effort to listen properly. This would tire out your brain, making you feel more tired and fatigued at the end of the day.

  • You hear ringing sounds constantly. Nothing is more annoying and disturbing than constant sounds like ringing or buzzing running on persistently. They are quite unpleasant, often making it difficult for you to stay focused on your work.

If you consult a professional Audiologist, you would probably be recommended wearing good digital hearing aids, which perform better than the analog ones. Buy hearing aids only after getting expert consultation to have the best listening experience. So no more missing out on the wonderful moments of life!

Hearing Health at Work: How to Protect Your Ears at Your Workplace?

Saturday, July 6, 2019 7:53:33 PM Asia/Calcutta

One’s workplace needs to be noise-free and a calmer atmosphere, to enable one to stay focused on one’s job. Loud noises are hazards for one’s workplace - not only for the overall prosperity of the company but for personal health as well. However, we know that noise is inevitable at places like a factory, construction site, or mining sites. The best defence mechanism against noise-induced hearing loss is to avoid and stay away from hazardous noise situations.

The good news is that noise exposures at work are being reduced due to the advanced and improved technological devices. For example, the manufacturing companies are introducing more sound-free machines and singers and music composers are working with more and more improved, stronger and powerful sound systems. However, some newer companies are still exposed to noises. Whether or not you are a user of hearing aids, you need to protect your ears and take care of them, not only at home but also in your workplace.

 

How to Reduce Noise in the Workplace?

The first and foremost thing is to reduce the noise levels at your workplace more than anything else. It is quite natural for professionals to suggest wearing earmuffs or earplugs to lessen the intensity of your exposure to loud noises, but this might often lead to more problems. Because people are often unaware of how to use them properly. It is always better to stay as noise-free as possible. In this way, you can not only stay focused on your work but can also maintain your hearing and overall health.

The Noise Regulations 2005 obliges employers to prevent or reduce exposure to noise at work and provide safety to all employees. Being a responsible employer, it is your duty to maintain a healthy environment for your workers. Here are some tips to reduce noise levels at your organisation -

  • Assess the possible risks of noise exposure which might affect the wellbeing of your employees.

  • Create or build strong walls between the employees and the sources of any noise.

  • Keep all the machinery and devices well-lubricated to avoid any annoying and unexpected noises.

  • If you find a piece of machinery producing loud noises that is beyond your control, then repair or replace it immediately. Not only will it protect the hearing health of your employees, but will also increase productivity. After all, an old and faulty machine is bound to work inefficiently, thereby reducing productivity!

  • You can also consider replacing your old and noisy devices with low-noise ones.

  • The best solution would be to eliminate all possible sources of loud sounds or at least lessening their intensity.

  • Do try to create separate and quiet areas for your employees to be at ease and gain relief from excessive noise.

  • Limit the number of employees near the noise source and at the same time limiting the duration of the exposure.

  • The best way would be to isolate or enclose the sound source.

  • If possible control the noise from a distance.

  • Make sure that the legal limits of noise are not exceeded.

  • Carry out health surveillance and hearing checkups on a regular basis to ensure that your employees are working in safety.

The health and wellbeing of the employees is the most important thing that an organisation should take care of. It determines the prosperity of your company.

 

When Should I Be Concerned?

If you find the following situations at your workplace, then you are exposed to a possible risk of acquiring hearing loss.

  • Is the noise intrusive such as a busy street near your office, a vacuum cleaner running on near you or a crowded restaurant? Are you exposed to these noises for most of your working day?

  • Do you work in a noisy industry, such as a construction site, woodworking industry, engineering, plastics processing and textile manufacturing factory, pressing or stamping, paper or board making or in the canning or bottling plants?

  • Do you feel that you have to raise your voice in order for at least part of the day to carry out a normal conversation even while at an about 2 m distance from the person you are trying to converse with?

  • Do you have to use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?

  • Are you exposed to noises like hammering or other such noisy and explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools, guns or detonators?

If you face these conditions almost regularly then it’s high time that you should get your hearing tested and if you are diagnosed with any hearing loss, do consider going for a proper hearing loss treatment to avoid further damage - be it hearing aids or cochlear implantation. Because exposure to loud noises generally causes sensorineural hearing loss which is permanent. You need to take good care of your ears in such a case and wear your hearing aids regularly.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aid Devices Hearing Aids By Hearing Plus

5 Common Hearing Aid Disasters: How to Deal With Them?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2:47:03 PM Asia/Calcutta

You have finally realised that you have hearing loss and accepted your hearing problems. You have decided to take an appointment with your Audiologist and have started wearing hearing aids as recommended by him or her. You have also developed an excellent habit of taking care of them like cleaning them and keeping them in a safe case as advised, whenever you are not using them - such as at night or while you are having a shower.

Congratulations you are on the right track! You are following the care and maintenance rules for your hearing aids regularly and perfectly. But life isn’t always the way you want. What if you happen to drop your ear machine accidentally? What if you forget taking them off at the time of bathing? Or what if you realised that you left your hearing aids at home when you needed them really badly?

Anything can happen! No matter how careful you might be, you are sure to drop your hearing aids at least once in your lifetime. Panicking won’t be the solution. You need to know some tips to handle situations like these.

 

What if...

You drop your hearing aids in water, such as the bathroom?

Sadly, this happens to a lot of people, especially those who have the habit of taking them off in the bathroom. If you accidentally drop your hearing aids in the bathroom and if the toilet or the sink is clean enough, stop all sources of running water. Grab it as fast as you can. If you can’t do it, quickly call someone and ask the person to help you retrieve it, especially someone who is handy with a pipe wrench.

After you have retrieved your device successfully, immediately remove the batteries and leave open the battery compartment for the internal parts of the device to dry.

Don’t worry about the device getting damaged, as nowadays most of the modern hearing devices have a protective nano-coating which can be disinfected by a simple alcohol wash. However, if you drop your ear machine in the unflushed toilet and end up ruining it, then consider it as a biohazard and you should not use it further.

How to avoid this?

Before you enter the bathroom, find a place in your bedroom, preferably the centre of your bed, sit down and take off your hearing aids and keep them on a soft and dry surface. Using a soft towel will be a good idea to take your hearing aids off as it will act as a cushion the blow and reduce the bouncing in case you drop them off. Make sure to carefully put them back in the hard protective case provided with your product. However, if the bathroom is the only option for you to take your hearing device off, then close off all the taps and other sources of running water and clog the sink with a tissue or handkerchief. Always remove your hearing aids on a dry surface, and if possible do it on a soft cloth or a tissue.

 

What if…

You wear your ear machine in the shower or the pool?

Yes, we understand that today’s digital hearing aids are so comfortable that you often forget that you are wearing them! Naturally, you forget to take them off before going for the shower or jumping into the pool. You may have developed the habit of removing your device if you have a fixed schedule for bathing or swimming. However, this habit might break sometimes, especially if you are out on your vacation.

So here’s what you should do if you accidentally get your hearing aids wet. Immediately remove them from your ears, dry them with a soft and dry towel and as mentioned above, remove the batteries and keep the battery doors open for an hour or so, and if possible, overnight. Use a hearing aid dryer (if you are carrying one), to dry the internal parts of the device. Never ever use a hair dryer, an oven or the microwave to dry your hearing device, as they would destroy your precious hearing aids. If in the morning, however, you find that your device is not working, contact your Audiologist immediately.

How to avoid this?

Make it a habit to feel for your hearing aids with both of your hands before entering the pool or going for a shower. You can also remind yourself by setting alarms or posting notes by the shower or attach one with clips to your swimsuit or towel. Having a hearing aid case handy is also a good idea.

 

What if…

You accidentally drop your hearing aids outside?

The moment you realise that your hearing aids are gone, pause right there with whatever you are doing! Don’t panic or start searching for it in a rush. Keep calm. Ask everyone who is with you to stand still without moving anywhere. Feel your body right from your head to your feet to search for it and to check whether the device is attached to any of your garments. Try to recall what may have caused it to go off your ears. Did you wear a scarf, a cap or other such head garments? Or did anything get brushed against your ears? When did you last pull it off and where was the place? From when did you start having a muffled hearing?

Simply relax and start retracing your steps. Most probably you will find your device.

How to avoid this?

If you wear caps, scarfs, earmuffs or other garments in and around your head and neck region, do take great care while taking off the garment, especially if you are wearing a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, so as to avoid your device coming off along with it. Hearing aids are really necessary when you are outside your house, not only for entertainment purpose but for your safety as well. Check from time to time whether your hearing devices are right in the place they are meant to be. Also, nowadays specially-designed earmolds or ear-grips are available which are designed to keep your ear machine in their proper place, without getting displaced. Consult your Audiologist and ask for one. They are really helpful and would help you stay relaxed when you are on an outing! Just chill out and have fun!

 

What if…

You left your device at home when you really needed it?

Everyone is always on the rush and most hearing aid users are sure to miss out their hearing aids some day or the other. Again don’t panic if this happens to you! Yes, of course, it is the most common hearing aid disaster among all others. If you can, immediately return to your home, because hearing is very important for just anything you do! Try to retrieve them. If you have the habit of keeping them at a safe place, well and good! If not, do take the help of someone to find it for you.

How to avoid this?

Wearing hearing aids is a must for your general health, your communication ability as well as to keep our brain active and stimulated all the time. Your hearing loss is not intermittent, so your hearing aid wearing schedule shouldn’t be intermittent as well. You need them every time (except of course in the shower or the pool and while you are asleep)!

The best way to avoid wearing your ear machine when you are going out is to set up a routine as prescribed by your Audiologist and make it a habit to wear it accordingly.

You can also make it a habit to put your hearing aids (stored in the protective case) in your bag which you take with you daily while going out.

Another way is to post notes beside the door on the inside to remind you of wearing your hearing device before you leave your house. You can also tell someone at your home to remind you before you step outside.

 

What if…

Your hearing aid is eaten!

Yes, it can be true, however strange it might seem! Do you have pets in your house? Or small children? Pets or small children are often curious to explore new things with their mouth. Forget pets or children! You will be surprised to know that even adults have swallowed hearing aids by mistaking them for food, especially if they have kept them near some nuts or candies. Because the digital hearing aids of today are so tiny and colourful that often can confuse you with some yummy tidbits!

Anyway, what’s done cannot be undone! What you can do is to check whether your pet or your kid has swallowed the device. If not, then try to retrieve it from its mouth and check for any broken parts or batteries. Swallowing batteries is really dangerous! If the device is already been ingested, rush your pet or your child to the doctor (a veterinarian in case of a pet) immediately, as first of all, it is toxic to health!

After you have ensured the safety of your pet or your kid, claim for the hearing aid. If you find that all the parts are intact along with the battery, clean it with an alcohol wipe and check its performance. If it fails to work or if you find that your device is broken, contact your Audiologist. Be sure to take with you each and every part that you retrieved from your damaged hearing aid.

How to avoid this?

The very important thing that you should do is to keep your hearing aids out of reach of pets and small children. Always keep it at a level much higher from the ground. Also, make it a point to store them in the hard protective case provided with the device to avoid losing or falling the device from heights.

You can also make small enclosures or home for your pets so that they don’t loiter around the house and mess up with things. Also, do engage some time in training your pet.

 

Anything can happen anytime. Of course, it’s good to know about these tips, but the most important thing that you must do is to ensure at the time of purchase that you are getting a good warranty period and ask your dealer whether that would cover repairing or replacing facilities.

 

Which do you think is the most common hearing aid disaster?

Which of the above have you faced in your day-to-day lives?

Are you aware of any other hearing aid disaster which the hearing aid wearers must be careful about?

Kindly tell us in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Hearing Plus
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