Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » United Kingdom » Countries » England » Health & Public Safety » Deafness & Audiology

Deafness or hearing loss can be caused by all sorts of different things, but some of the common causes are related to age, exposure to loud noise, disturbances or blood circulation in the inner ear, and defects of the hearing nerve.

Sensorineural hearing loss, or hearing loss due to damage of the hair cells of the inner ear, have two types: congenital and acquired. Congenital sensorineural hearing loss begins in the womb and can be caused by heredity, premature delivery, lack of oxygen during birth, and bacterial or viral infections such as German measles or meningitis, passed on from the mother during pregnancy. Acquired sensorineural hearing loss, or hearing loss which happens after birth, are commonly caused by aging, prolonged exposure to loud noise, or one instance of loud noise such as an explosion or close-up gunshot. Additionally, infections and diseases including mumps, measles, German measles, or meningitis, tumors in the middle ear, a blow to the head, or side effects from various medications.

The word "audiology" stems from the Latin word audīre, which means to hear, and it is the scientific or medical study of hearing as well as balance and disorders which are related to the ear. The goal of those who practice audiology is to treat people who are suffering from hearing loss or even deafness and to prevent, in a proactive fashion, new or further damage of the hearing, balance, or other associated problem.

Treatments for those suffering from hearing loss or hearing impairment are dependent upon severity and cause if the hearing loss. The first step to improving or stopping hearing loss is to consult with an audiology. The audiologist will run some tests to determine what type of hearing loss the patient is dealing with, what its severity is, and what would work best.

Age-related hearing loss is not reversible, but while there is no cure, per se, there are numerous devices available which can improve the hearing that is still there. Hearing aids are, of course, the most commonly thought of devices. Cochlear implants have been gaining popularity in the last couple of decades, after popular radio host Rush Limbaugh had the implants after his sudden-onset hearing loss. The cochlear implant is surgically implanted in the inner ear. This electronic device does not make sounds louder or clearer the way a hearing aid does. Instead it bypasses the damages the parts of the auditory system and stimulates the nerve which, in a healthy ear, allows one to hear.

While the implant is inside the ear, an external component is generally worn behind the ears. This external component contains a battery compartment, a speech processor, and a microphone. The microphone grabs the sound which is then handed off to the speech processor which converts the sound into electrical signals. The signals are sent across the skin by way of radio waves to the implanted stimulator. The implanted stimulator sends the signals to the electrodes implanted in the cochlea. Those signals stimulate the auditory nerve fibers to the brain, and the brain interprets the signals as meaningful sound. Other devices which can help with hearing loss include traditional hearing aids and text display systems.



Recommended Resources

Search for Deafness & Audiology on Google or Bing