Loss of hearing can be due to many different pathological conditions. It could be due to a congenital disorder, trauma or aging. Depending on the ear disorder and the individual’s disease process, some may be treated through medications or surgery. The ENT Clinic Singapore can provide a range of in-clinic hearing tests (pure tone audiometry and tympanometry) in a specially-calibrated booth. This provides both adult and pediatric patients the right fitting options for their compromised ears to assist with the right acoustic feedback. It is important to have good sound quality hearing devices as it leads to improved quality of life.
What causes severe hearing loss?
Experiencing severe hearing loss can be depressing. There could be many reasons for this condition. It can happen either suddenly or over time. Some of the common causes are listed below:
- Long term exposure to loud noise: If you are constantly exposed to loud noise, there is a high chance you will develop hearing loss. Occupational noise from powered machines and loudspeakers are a common cause.
- Trauma: Severe injuries to head and neck can damage the middle ear bones causing sudden permanent loss of hearing. For example when exposed to loud explosions or vehicle accidents.
- Medication: Certain medications such as cancer drugs, NSAIDS and antibiotics can cause hearing loss when used long term. It is important to have your ENT doctor to monitor your auditory levels during such treatments.
- Chronic Diseases: Conditions like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension may interrupt the blood flow through the ears to the brain. There is a potential chance for loss of hearing.
- Childhood illnesses: Conditions such as meningitis, chickenpox, measles and mumps may cause damage to the inner or middle ear, leading to permanent hearing loss at times. Vaccination against these diseases is a great way to keep off disease.
When do you need to use a hearing aid?
An ear specialist plays a key role in diagnosing and treating cases of hearing loss. It is important that early hearing aid rehabilitation is introduced and there are counselling sessions even for individuals with mild to moderate loss of hearing. This has been shown to be very effective in recent research, as an early approach helps to reduce further damage to ear structures causing auditory deprivation. A condition such as this leads to cognitive decline, social isolation and lack of self-esteem.
What might start from a little ringing in one’s ears could eventually end up with the patient having trouble understanding and hearing in a conversation.
What tests would the ENT doctor do to determine if you need hearing aids?
The first thing which your ENT doctor will do is a physical examination to see if there is an excess build-up of earwax. If this is not the root cause, then further examination is required. Regular causes of hearing loss can be corrected through medications or surgery, especially if in the hearing bones or eardrum. However, if the problem lies in the inner ear, an audiogram will have to be performed to understand the extent of hearing loss and the ENT doctor will determine the type of hearing aid to use.
Rehabilitation measures for loss of hearing
With the new technologies in place, there are many methods to address loss of hearing. A decade ago, the hearing aids were mostly invisible to avoid stigma. However, today the modern ear aids are openly adopted with a visible device and integrated microphone. With such hearing aids, individuals feel more comfortable and the high frequencies are well amplified. It removes the ‘occlusion effect’ since the auditory canal is not closed.
Older patients undergo a lot of inner ear impairments starting with high-frequency ranges. Otoplastics are used to achieve the required amplification. The comfort of wearing is increased by vents using modern noise suppression. Due to the stigma of hearing aids, many do not consider using it still. The use of hearing aids is recommended when surgical intervention is not possible and audiometric testing in the better ear should be at least 30 dB between the frequencies 500 and 4000 Hz.
During a hearing diagnostic testing, the specialist will look to identify the severity of loss of hearing and origin of the impairment. Hearing aids are of various sizes; the larger ones have the ability to create a louder sound. Your ENT doctor will select a hearing aid depending on the extent of loss of hearing. The larger hearing aids are placed behind the ear and smaller ones fit within the ear.
What types of hearing aids are available?
Hearing aids come in two forms.
- Analog Hearing Aids: These are relatively cheap and are able to convert sound waves to electrical signals amplifying them.
- Digital Hearing Aids: These hearing aids are able to convert sound waves into computer codes, amplifying them. This code helps in identifying the volume and direction of the sound. It helps to adjust the volume according to the patient’s needs with most hearing aids having the ability to adjust automatically. Digital hearing aids produce better results compared to analog hearing aids.
What are the features of modern hearing aids?
Today, there are many modern features included in your hearing aids. The hearing aids have rechargeable batteries with a long battery life. Some of the key features include:
- Going Wireless: The current evolution in hearing aids can go wireless, so if you adjust one, the other will automatically adjust synchronously. There are hearing aids which could be connected to mobile phones with facilities for Bluetooth enabling.
- Reduction in Wind Noise: When you are outdoors or near a fan, there is a lot of noise generated by wind. The modern technology in hearing aids can minimise this noise.
- Directional Microphones: This helps with listening to conversations and understanding when background noise is present.
- Remote Control: This helps to control your hearing aids without having to touch them.
Going through hearing loss is an unpleasant experience. However, with the modern hearing aids improving both in style and comfort, it has improved the quality of life of the user. The ENT Clinic Singapore with its experienced ENT specialists and audiologists help you with ear screening tests and support you in identifying the suitable hearing aid options for each of their patients.