Today, about 6% of the entire population of the globe suffer from severe hearing loss – which means that their quality of life is noticeably reduced, they cannot fully and without difficulty communicate, take part in social life.
How do I know that I have hearing problems?
There are three key symptoms that accompany hearing pathology:
- You began to ask the interlocutor often. Most likely, your relatives and friends with whom you often talk will be the first to notice this.
- You are worried about a feeling of stuffiness, tinnitus, as after a flight on an airplane.
- You suddenly stopped hearing abruptly or became worse with one or two ears.
If you have at least one of the above symptoms, do not delay going to an otolaryngologist.
If hearing loss has occurred abruptly, consult a doctor urgently: this may be a symptom of acute sensorineural hearing loss – a disease in which a later visit to a specialist can lead to ineffective treatment and the preservation of hearing loss.
Is it possible to check for yourself if everything is fine with your hearing?
The only thing you can do yourself is to conduct a speech hearing study. According to the norms, a healthy person should hear a whisper at a distance of 6 meters in a quiet room. You can conduct an experiment right in your apartment: ask someone from your family, moving away from you at a distance of 6 meters, to whisper some phrase. If you can’t hear or can’t distinguish words, you probably have a hearing impairment.
You can also use one of a number of computer programs that can determine how well you hear: they are uploaded to the gadget, and you conduct a self-examination.
However, all these methods cannot be considered equivalent to a doctor’s examination. If you have any doubts, it is better to contact an otolaryngologist right away.
If a person hears only when they lean close to him, is this already a pathology?
Unfortunately, yes. Hearing is a sense organ of great social importance. Depending on how well we hear, the quality of our life, the degree of inclusion in society depends. Hearing at the auricle is socially unsuitable, but if you continue to hear from a close distance, it means, most likely, an otolaryngologist-surdologist will be able to help you.
Why does a person hear worse?
There are three types of the disease, depending on where exactly the disorders are localized.
Conductive type: the operation of the human sound-conducting apparatus (outer and middle ear) is disrupted. That is, not all sounds reach the inner ear.
Sensorineural type: impaired perception of sounds directly in the inner ear, where sound vibrations are transmitted to the nerve.
Mixed type: the problem affects both sound-conducting structures (in most cases, the middle ear) and sound-perceiving ones.
As a rule, the most simple and least dangerous diseases of the conductive type. The “deeper” the cause of hearing impairment is localized, the more difficult it is to cure it.
Who needs to undergo an audiometric screening?
You are recommended to undergo screening if you:
- Recently received a traumatic brain injury, concussion of the brain;
- You are prone to frequent otitis media, suffer from chronic ear diseases;
- You have grade 3 adenoids;
- Your age is 50 years or more;
- You have been diagnosed with metabolic diseases (atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus);
- Your job is related to noise vibrations (train driver, call center operator, school teacher, musician);
- You have a habit of listening to music loudly with headphones in a noisy room (for example, in the subway).
Please note: even if you have no pronounced hearing complaints, you should get screened as soon as possible. Sometimes the violation does not immediately make itself felt, but it will already be noticeable by the results of the studies.
What methods are used to test hearing during screening?
First of all, you will be examined by the method of tonal threshold audiometry.
How’s going: You pass into a sound-proof cabin or into a quiet isolated room. They put headphones on you, give you a special remote control in your hands. The doctor delivers a sound of a certain frequency to the ear with a gradually changing volume. Your task is to press the button at the moment when you just start to hear the sound, so the doctor will determine the threshold of sound perception at this frequency. The study is carried out at different frequencies first of one and then of the other ear.
Then this procedure is repeated, but you are put on a bone phone – a special rim with a device that generates sound, which is installed in the ear region.
What we find out: based on both tests – using headphones and a bone phone – the doctor receives an audiogram graph. It makes it clear to which ear hearing is reduced, what is the mechanism of reduction – a violation of sound transmission or sound perception, which frequencies are affected.
A healthy human ear perceives frequencies in the range from 16 to 20,000 Hz. Human speech occupies a range from 500 to 4000 Hz. With tonal threshold audiometry, frequencies from 125 to 8000 Hz are fed into your ears: this allows us to determine hearing loss both in the area of speech frequencies and in the high-frequency range.
It happens that a person still hears well, but the pathology has already appeared, and so far it manifests itself only at the highest frequencies. It is the high frequencies that we often stop hearing in the first place.
This is how tonal threshold audiometry is performed.
Another technique is tympanometry. This is an objective technique: here you are not required to fix or mark anything, everything is done by a hearing analyzer device.
How is it going? A small probe is inserted into your ear (a completely painless procedure), then a sound is fed into your ear, while the pressure in the external auditory canal changes. In this case, the eardrum either stretches to the ear canal, or is pressed inside. The situation in which you hear best at zero pressure is considered normal.
What will we find out? The degree of compliance of your sound-conducting system of the middle ear: whether the eardrum, auditory bones, muscles that participate in sound conduction work well.
Why and why? The most frequent and easily solvable problems are associated with the pathology of the middle ear. Tympanometry allows you to localize the pathology of the middle ear, for example – for example, a violation of the function of the auditory tube, a rupture of the chain of the auditory ossicles, the presence of fluid in the middle ear, etc.
Does hearing restoration take a long time?
It all depends on the nature of the pathology. Sometimes the pathology is corrected surgically (for example, with otosclerosis) – and then the patient feels the difference immediately after the operation.
Sometimes hearing has to be maintained and regularly checked throughout life, because hearing loss tends to progress. If hearing loss causes problems in communication, you have to ask again all the time, you miss some important information, all this negatively affects communication at home and at work – it’s worth thinking about hearing replacement. According to numerous studies, the lack of compensation for hearing loss leads to a decrease in memory, operational thinking, and imbalance. A person can literally become stupid.
Is it possible to just buy a hearing aid at a pharmacy?
You can’t buy and start wearing a hearing aid yourself: each device has its own amplification power. The doctor himself will select the optimal device of the required power for you. Even after a successful selection, it takes some time to adapt to a new sound source. At first, you may feel discomfort, headache – but in order to overcome the period of adaptation, you need to wear the device regularly.
Hearing aids can be both external and internal (the so-called “artificial ear”) – they are especially relevant for young people who are uncomfortable with the need to wear a noticeable hearing aid.
What can I do to preserve my hearing?
- If your profession is related to noise, observe safety precautions, be sure to use protective equipment when you are in a noisy room.
- Observe the hygiene of listening to music. Use noise-canceling headphones, do not turn on the music at full volume. The volume at which you can hear your own voice is considered harmless.
- At the first signs of hearing impairment, consult a doctor.