Deafness – Its Common Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Though some consider it more politically correct to refer to deafness as impaired hearing, for those who may display the condition in its various forms, it is happily no longer considered as a stigma. Despite this greater acceptance, however, there are still many who have little understanding of its nature and who remain largely unaware of the more common causes of its occurrence. Since it is often possible, with a few relatively simple precautions, to avoid permanent impairment, gaining a little more insight into such details could prove to be quite important.

Among those frequently affected, albeit on a short term basis in the majority of cases, are infants and small children. Within this patient group, the cause is likely to be an outer or middle ear infection resulting either from the infiltration of a bacterium or a virus. Such infections are actually the most common reason for consulting a GP during the first three years of a child’s life and the accumulation of pus that may occur on either side of the eardrum is the most likely explanation for diminished hearing at this time. A simple medical examination is normally sufficient for a diagnosis and treatment with antibiotic drops or an oral preparation will normally serve to clear up all signs of infection including the characteristic, temporary symptoms of conductive deafness that invariably accompanies these conditions.

For young babies affected in this way, the only visible sign may be a redness of the outer ear and a tendency for the child to keep touching it. This, however, should be regarded as enough to alert a concerned parent to the likelihood that a medical examination may be in order.

Wherever there is some obstruction to the passage of sound from the outer to the inner ear, the resulting impairment is defined as conductive. By contrast, impairment arising from abnormalities of the apparatus employed for sensing and relaying auditory signals to the brain is classified as having a sensorineural origin. To complete the diagnosis and evaluation appropriate to this class of disorder, a more specialised examination at an audiology centre such as those operated by The Ear Institute will prove necessary. Sadly, sensory impairment is now on the increase among those in their teens and twenties with acoustic shock due to loud music from in-ear devices a prime cause that is continued can cause permanent damage.

For all but those with may be too profoundly affected, a modern digital hearing aid or a cochlear implant should offer an effective means to compensate for deafness due to most conductive of sensory malfunctions and for this purpose The Ear Institute offers a comprehensive service.

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