The Growing Demand for Audiologist Services in PretoriaToday, the average audiologist in Pretoria is seeing more patients than ever before. The ability to hear plays a vital role in almost every aspect of our lives. It allows us to conduct conversations with family, friends, and colleagues, and to enjoy all manner of audible entertainment while granting us the means with which to immerse ourselves in the many fascinating sounds of our man-made and natural environments. Given the extent to which we rely on sound, it is surprising how little attention we pay to our hearing until it shows signs that it might be failing us.
Hearing loss is a progressive process for which there is often no cure. However, a timely visit to an audiologist in Pretoria, for example, could mean the difference between a controlled and manageable condition and one that could end in a lifetime of silence.
It is a sad fact that city life has become one of the greatest hazards to many aspects of our health. Along with the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from vehicle exhausts that threaten to slowly suffocate us, noise pollution is now the single most common cause of hearing loss and is affecting not just the elderly or infirm, but everyone from the cradle to the grave. Known as noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL, it is a result of acoustic damage to the specialised hair cells that line part of the cochlea in the middle ear.
Consult an audiologist in Pretoria or any South African city and he or she will tell you that it takes just over eight hours of continuous exposure to a sound level of 85 decibels to cause permanent and irreversible hearing loss. For the record, that’s about the level you might experience when driving in city traffic. At a rock concert, where levels can often reach 115 dB, without suitable protection, you could sustain marked hearing loss after a mere 30 seconds, while spending more than an hour operating a power mower could have the same effect.
As one’s hearing becomes less acute, the natural response is to turn up the volume of the radio, TV, or mobile phone, yet few people recognise this need as a warning sign of auditory impairment until the results of a hearing test conducted by an audiologist, perhaps at an Ear Institute clinic in Pretoria, make it only too clear.
While noise has now become the leading cause of deafness, it is not the only one. For example, some children are unable to hear from birth, while others may lose the ability a little later as the result of a chronic ear infection. In the latter case, the damage is to the conductive components in the outer and middle ear responsible for relaying sounds to the sensory components in the inner ear. Conductive deafness may sometimes be reversed when due to some sort of physical obstruction or acute infection when treated in time. As well as confirming the presence of hearing loss, it is the task of audiologists, in Pretoria and worldwide, to differentiate between conductive, sensorineural, and mixed impairment, as this, in turn, will help the healthcare professional to decide on the most effective means with which to manage a given patient’s condition.
A professional audiological examination will generally consist of three parts and begins with a physical examination of the ear with an otoscope. This preliminary stage is to rule out infection or any form of physical anomaly or disease process that might require the patient to be referred for medical attention. If the findings are clear, an audiologist in Pretoria will then conduct a type of hearing test known as an audiogram.
It is a totally non-invasive procedure that requires the patient to listen to a series of tones of different frequencies. As their volume is gradually increased, the patient must indicate when he or she first detects the tone. The result is a graph indicating which frequencies are affected and to what extent. Additional examinations known as the Rinne and Weber tests involve listening to a vibrating tuning fork to differentiate between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. The combined results will then, normally, be used to select the most appropriate hearing aid and adjust it to compensate for the patient’s anomalous hearing profile.
In some severe cases, a hearing aid will prove ineffective and the audiologist will then refer the patient to a Pretoria ENT specialist for an in-depth evaluation as a possible candidate for a cochlear implant.