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Hearing Loss – There is Hope and Help

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Hearing loss can present acutely or may be progressive in nature. Often, this could be a consequence of excessive and prolonged noise exposure (resulting in noise induced hearing loss) or simply due to ageing of the inner ear function – a condition called presbyacusis. Whatever the cause, we are certain that it has a profound impact on our quality of life

When do we suspect we have an ear condition or hearing loss?

Besides speaking excessively loudly, there is a tendency to tune up the volume of the radio or television. Depending on the specific cause, there could also be associated ear-related symptoms of vertigo (a spinning-type of dizziness), tinnitus (ringing sound in the ear), ear discharge or pain in the ear

Hearing loss begins to socially estrange someone from the community since the sufferer may fear not being understood and choose not to participate in any conversations. At work, one may not be able to participate effectively in meetings and discussions and thus, jeopardize one’s capability and be misunderstood

Thankfully there is HELP available! With better understanding of the problem, you are able to better identify your issues and treat the condition promptly and even improve your hearing quality

Diagnosis

The first step in dealing with the problem is to seek medical help and arrive at an accurate diagnosis so that treatment is specific and targeted. The use of otoscopy and sometimes micro-otoscopy will allow the ear drum and ear canal to be visualized. A tuning fork testing can be performed in the clinic setting but the confirmatory test would involve the audiometry and tympanometry in order to determine if the there is a hearing loss and the nature of hearing loss(whether a conductive deafness or an inner ear dysfunction). Occasionally, radiological investigations such as a computer assisted tomography (CAT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are needed to further evaluate the middle ear and inner ear anatomy

Treatment Options

This depends on the specific cause of the hearing loss and may involve medical and pharmacotherapy or surgery or hearing rehabilitation including the use of hearing aids

  1. Hearing Preservation Surgery

This may involve drainage of middle ear fluid (myringotomy) for otitis media or repair of perforated ear drum (tympanoplasty) or reconstruction of middle ear bones (ossiculoplasty) or stapedotomy – just to name some

  1. Hearing Aids

Conventional hearing aids are worn in the ear for any form of hearing loss – whether it is inner ear disorder or conductive disorder. The hearing aid technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the years and we now have frequency specific and minimally visible aids that are readily available for individualised needs and requirements

Implantable hearing aids (e.g. bone anchored hearing aids and middle ear implants and cochlear implants) are increasingly being used for specific situations such as profound deafness in both ears or single sided deafness

Precaution

The very first step in dealing with hearing loss is to ensure that you take every precaution in not allowing your hearing function to be damaged – which is done by reducing prolonged and excessive loud sound exposure. Ensure that ear defenders are used when working in a noisy environment and always seek early medical help whenever you suspect a likely hearing problem

 

he that has Ears to hear… let him hear

Matthew 11:15

 

Dr ENG Soh Ping
Consultant Ear Nose Throat Surgeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

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