Hearing loss or hearing impairment refers to loss of hearing in one or both ears. The degree of hearing loss defers from person to person. Hearing loss has plagued people since the dawn of time. Till recent history, not much could be done about hearing loss and those suffering from it were butt of redicule.
The first electronic hearing aid was developed before the turn of the century, but it was not patented until 1901. These were so big that they needed to be carried in a wheelbarrow!
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All about hearing loss
Hearing loss is described according to the degree of impairment. It is usually explained as mild, moderate, moderate to severe, severe or profound.
- Mild hearing loss -- The person can hear conversations conducted in normal volume but has difficulty in hearing whispers, soft sounds or low volume sounds.
- Moderate hearing loss -- The person cannot follow conversations conducted in normal volume. He can hear if people speak in loud voices. He himself might be speaking in a loud voice.
- Moderate to severe hearing loss -- Even when speech is loud, they do not hear all words and sounds clearly.
- Profound hearing loss -- Such persons cannot hear any sounds without the help of hearing aid.
Deafness is another name for profound hearing loss. However, people who call themselves 'Deaf' usually are identifying themselves as members of the Deaf Community. This means that they use sign language as their first language. Not all people with a severe or profound hearing loss use sign language.
Types of hearing loss
- Presbycusis -- This is the most common condition causing hearing loss in adults. It is hearing loss caused by ageing and is associated with the reduction in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds.
- Noise Induced hearing loss -- Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by one-time exposure to extremely loud sound, or by exposure to sounds at high decibels over months or years.
- Ear ailments -- Some people might suffer from hearing loss due to severe ear infections. Children are most affected by this ailment. In fact the major cause of hearing loss in children is ear infections. Hearing impaired children might also be vctims of birth defects, illness, and injury.
What can I do?
Hearing loss leads to fundamental changes in a person's life. There are many things that can be done – medically, technologically, and even at a personal level – to avoid hearing loss from becoming a barrier between the person who is afected and their surroundings.
- Seek medical help to select a suitable hearing aid.
- Ask the doctor if surgey of any kind could improve the situation
Useful tips tips to communicate with hard of hearing people
If your friends, family and coworkers have hearing loss, do keep these in mind while communicating with them.
- Do not shout while speaking to a person suffering from loss of hearing. Shouting just distorts your mouth movements and makes speech reading difficult
- Speak clearly and avoid covering your mouth with your hand while speaking.
- Face the person while speaking. Do not try to hold a conversation from across the room.
- Keep your moustache well trimmed to ensure that it does not cover interfere with speech reading.
- Tell the person when the topic of conversation changes.
- Make sure you have a person’s attention before you start speaking. A gentle tap on the shoulder can do the trick
- Make sure that background noise from television or radio is minimal while speaking. Ask for quiet sections in restaurants.
- Don't give up. Communicating and including a hearing impaired person just requires a little more patience and effort.
90 degrees -- what we do not know yet
- Loss of hearing impacts retirement decisions. It is believed that labor force participation rates are lower for people with hearing loss.
- There might be a connection between race and hearing loss. A study in the US obseves that whites of all ages are more likely than blacks to have hearing loss, but the gap widens in the adult population.
- The prevalence of hearing loss decreases as family income and education increases.
- Patients who believe that they have one "good" ear might actually have two "bad" ears where one ear is slightly better than the other. They favour the better ear for the telephone, group conversations, and feel that "the better ear" is normal when it isn't. About 90% of patients are in need of hearing aids for both ears.
- Hearing loss affects only "old people" and is merely a sign of ageing. Only 35% of people with hearing loss are older than age 64. Hearing loss affects all age groups.
- People feel that if they had a hearing loss, their family doctor would have told them. Only 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor's office, it can be virtually impossible for the physician to recognize the extent of the problem.
- 8% of the US population has impaired hearing. This may vary from mild loss of sensitivity to total loss of hearing.
- It is estimated that untreated hearing impairments cost the U.S. economy $56 billion in lost productivity, special education, and medical care -— an annual per capita tax of $216.1.
- Ten million Americans have noise induced hearing loss.
- Daily, about 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous noise.
- Hearing Loss:A growing problem that affects quality of life
- Listen to your buds
- History of hearing loss
- University of Rochester Medical Centre Audiology