Hearing Impairment

What is it?

Hearing loss is a type of sensory impairment, which means that a person’s auditory abilities are impaired or reduced. People with this type impairment are unable to hear external sounds like ordinary people.

It can be classified according to the degree and type of auditory impairment. In terms of degrees, it can be divided into mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe and profound impairment. In addition, its causes can be divided into two categories, including “congenital” and “acquired”.

How it affects daily lives

In severe & profound impairment cases:

Generally speaking, when the degree of loss reaches severe and profound levels, it is difficult for patients to communicate normally with others in ordinary situations. Without the help of assistive aids, they may not be able to respond to others at all. Patients will often ask for repetitions, unconsciously rely on lip reading, or need to use sign language or other assistive methods to communicate properly.

In mild impairment cases:

On the other hand, even for patients with mild loss, such impairment greatly reduces their sensitivity to sounds, which has a great impact on the daily communication and understanding of speech sounds in conversations. Especially in environments with other environments or background sounds, the speech understanding and cognitive abilities of such people may be affected. This may lead to patients being unwilling to participate in social activities, being unsociable and withdrawn from society due to communication difficulties. Therefore, auditory impairment is likely to cause patients to encounter difficulties in communication and daily life, lead to social isolation and have a negative impact on mental health, etc.

Understanding the 2 main types of causes:
“congenital” & “acquired”

Congenital impairment means that the baby is born with auditory problems. Possible causes in these cases can include genetic mutations or abnormalities in the baby’s development.
Acquired impairment can be caused by long-term exposure to high-noise places, viral or bacterial infection, inflammation of the outer or middle ear, drug-induced ototoxicosis, aging of natural body structures, etc.

Different signs of auditory impairment

The symptoms of auditory loss can be different for each person. On the one hand, the symptoms depend on the degree of auditory impairment of the person. Generally speaking, the more severe the degree of loss, the more challenges and difficulties the patient faces in daily life.

Patients will find that their ability to distinguish the direction of sounds becomes weaker, or they may be confused in identifying different sounds, making it difficult to understand the other person’s words when chatting with them, making daily communication difficult. Due to feeling unable to participate in daily conversations freely and easily, social interaction will likely be affected. Therefore, early identification of signs and problems, obtaining appropriate support, treatment and intervention are very important in these cases.

1. Difficulty in picking up smaller sounds:

This means that it is difficult to capture low-volume sounds or subtle speech conversations. In a quiet environment, patients may still be able to hear loud sounds, but once they are in a noisy environment, such as in a place with crowds or background noise, it may be difficult to hear what they want to hear.

2. Frequently asking others to repeat their words:

Another sign is when patients need to frequently ask others to repeat what they are talking about or ask them to speak louder. This dependence on others to repeat may weaken self-confidence, which may cause patients to reduce social activities and withdraw from society.

3. Difficulty in recognising voices:

It is becoming difficult for patients to recognize human voices and fully understand conversations. Patients are likely to hear voices and know that someone is talking, but it is often difficult or even impossible for them to accurately identify the other party’s voice and fully understand the conversation.

4. Onset of tinnitus:

Tinnitus is a buzzing, ringing, or other type of sound that a person can hear in their ears or head even when no sound is present in reality. Tinnitus is often described as harsh or disruptive, and in severe cases can cause sleep disturbance, increased anxiety and stress, and may even interfere with daily activities and concentration.

Possible treatment options

General types of treatment for auditory loss includes medication, surgery, and the wearing and use of assistive listening products. For temporary losses, such as middle ear infection, doctors may formulate corresponding treatments based on the specific situation, such as prescribing antibiotics. However, for permanent impairment, wearing assistive products is a common and effective intervention option.