By the term hearing impairment, we refer to the reduction of a person's hearing ability. This reduction can be of various types while its severity differs among patients. Progressive hearing loss that occurs slowly and gradually is the most common form of hearing impairment and it is called presbycusis. About 1 in 3 people aged 65 to 75 have some degree of hearing loss. This percentage rises to 50% when we refer to people over 75 years old.
What parts does the human ear consist of?
The human ear consists of three parts:
- The outer ear. It includes the pinna and the external auditory canal. Its role is to collect sound stimuli from the environment and transfer them to the middle ear.
- The middle ear. It includes the tympanic membrane, the auditory ossicles, and the tympanic cavity. Its role is to receive sound stimuli from the outer ear and transmit them to the inner ear.
- The inner ear. It includes the labyrinth. The part of the labyrinth responsible for hearing is called the cochlea. A special fluid called perilymph circulates in it, while there are also special nerve cells. The waves of the perilymph caused by the sound stimuli arriving from the middle ear, stimulates/activates the nerve cells of the cochlea. The 'tails' of these cells form the auditory nerve, which ends in the center of hearing in the brain, where sound stimuli are decoded.
Obstruction or damage at any point in the pathway, as described above, can result in hearing loss.
What are the types of hearing impairment?
There are 3 types of hearing impairment:
- Conductive - Concerns the outer and middle ear
- Sensorineural - Concerns the inner ear
- Mixed - Is a combination of the above two types
What symptoms does a patient with hearing impairment have? βαρηκοΐα;
The symptoms that a patient with hearing impairment has are usually the following:
- Confuses speech with other noises
- Has difficulty distinguishing the words of the interlocutor, especially if there is noise in the environment or a crowded place
- Difficulty understanding consonants in particular
- Asks others to speak more clearly, loudly and slowly
- Turn up the volume on TV and radio
- They do not participate in discussions
- Avoid social events
What are the most common causes of hearing impairment and how are they treated?
Some of the most common causes of hearing loss are the following:
- Damage to the inner ear. Age, and prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the nerve cells in the cochlea. The result is that sound stimuli are not sufficiently transmitted.
In this case, the damage is unfortunately irreversible, so your ENT must give you instructions on how your hearing can be improved, e.g., with a hearing aid.
- Excessive concentration of alveolus (wax). It blocks the external auditory canal and prevents the conduction of sound stimuli. The solution is cleaning.
- Otosclerosis. It is a condition in which the auditory ossicles become immobilized resulting in conductive hearing loss. The appropriate treatment in this case is stapedectomy (surgery)..
- Inflammation of the ear (otitis), tumors or lumps of the temporal bone. In this case the obstruction caused also prevents the conduction of the stimulus to the inner ear. The treatment is either medicinal with local drops and antibiotics, or surgical, for example with the operation of chronic otitis..
- Ruptured eardrum. It can be caused by loud noise, injury e.g., from a cotton swab, otitis, or a sudden change in atmospheric pressure. Perforation of the tympanic membrane is treated with tympanoplasty..
How is hearing impairment diagnosed?
In order to arrive at a diagnosis of hearing impairment, your doctor will carry out the following tests:
- Clinical examination. Ιδιαίτερα σημαντική είναι η Otomicroscopy,i.e., the examination of the ear with an optical microscope is of great importance. The doctor will look for abnormal findings such as otitis, wax, or a hole in the eardrum.
- Hearing test. Ο The hearing test includes the audiogram, tympanogram, and auditory reflexes. In this way, the doctor will determine the type and degree of hearing loss and propose therapeutic solutions.
It is important to understand that the sooner someone resolves their hearing problem, the more slowly their condition will progress. Using a hearing aid, for example, will send signals to the hearing center that they would not reach it otherwise. This "awakens" the brain and helps the patient to adapt better to the environment, to protect themselves from possible dangers (e.g., a car on the street) and to be socially active.
Βαρηκοΐα ονομάζουμε την ελάττωση της ακουστικής ικανότητας ενός ατόμου.
- Έσω ους, το οποίο περιλαμβάνει το λαβύρινθο.
- Μέσο ους, το οποίο περιλαμβάνει την τυμπανική μεμβράνη, τα ακουστικά οστάρια και την κοιλότητα του τυμπάνου.
- Έξω ους, το οποίο περιλαμβάνει το πτερύγιο και το έξω ακουστικό πόρο.
- Βαρηκοΐα αγωγιμότητας
- Μικτή βαρηκοΐα
- Νευροαισθητήρια βαρηκοΐα
- Εάν υπάρχει θόρυβος, δυσκολεύεται να ξεχωρίσει τις λέξεις που αρθρώνει ο συνομιλητής του
- Θέλει οι γύρω του να μιλάνε πιο δυνατά και καθαρά
- Δυναμώνει την ένταση της τηλεόρασης
- Δυσκολεύεται να αντιληφθεί κυρίως τα σύμφωνα στις λέξεις
- Αποφεύγει να συμμετέχει σε συζητήσεις και απομονώνεται
Μπορεί να προκληθεί λόγω:
- Βλάβης στο έσω αυτί
- Βλάβης στο ακουστικό νεύρο
- Υπερβολικής συγκέντρωσης κεριού
- Συγκέντρωσης υγρού στο μέσο ους
- Ρήξης τυμπάνου
Η διάγνωση της βαρηκοΐας κατά κανόνα γίνεται με:
- Κλινική εξέταση (ωτομικροσκόπηση)
- Έλεγχο ακοής (ακοόγραμμα, τυμπανόγραμμα, ακουστικά αντανακλαστικά)