Hearing loss is the common problem of many people who get older. A person, even if she/he gets old, wants to preserve his/her active state in social life and in his/her communications with his/her family. Due to hearing losses in advanced ages, these people become frustrated in their social activities and get lonelier in society.
The best way to know whether or not one has hearing loss is to perform hearing tests. For a person to apply for hearing tests, he/she has to have some complaints about hearing. These complaints are:
- Having difficulty in hearing normal speeches
- Looking into people’s faces carefully to know what they are talking about.
- Feeling the urge to ask people to repeat themselves.
- Turn up the volume of television or radio.
- Hearing a speaker as if he/she is whispering.
- Long-lasting infections, pains, or tinnitus in the ear.
- Feelings of exhaustion and disturbance when striving to hear.
- The ear’s better performance in hearing than the other one while speaking on the phone.
CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS
Physical changes in the ear due to ageing are the most important and the most common causes of hearing loss. Contraction of capillary vessels leading to the hearing nerve and weakening of the hearing nerve diminish hearing sense. The hearing nerve may be affected by ageing happening in all parts of the organism and hearing sense may be reduced. Hearing loss due to ageing usually emerges after the age of 50, but it is possible to see the case of hearing loss even with newborn babies. One person in each 10 persons in the population experiences hearing loss. As one gets older, this rate increases even further.
ABR, which is an electrophysiological measurement system used in hearing scanning programs, is one of the most reliable systems. This measurement depends solely on objective data without ever asking the patient how he/she hears. In the method, hearing signals arriving to the person are transformed into electrophysiological waves. With brain waves’ response to these stimuli, it is possible to distinguish whether or nor the person is hearing.
It is very important for the development of the child’s speaking and language abilities to identify the hearing loss of baby within 6 months after birth and to use hearing instrument in early age. When necessary precautions against hearing loss are not taken, there can be delays in child’s speaking, and social and emotional problems may emerge. With the help of a device called “Otoacoustic Emission”, problems with hearing can be detected as soon as the baby is born. This routine procedure, which is applied prevalently in Turkey and in the world, informs us “there is hearing loss”. When this problem is revealed, level of hearing loss can be identified with the ABR test. The most important advantage of performing these tests on time is that: The child may learn speaking at an early age with the help of a hearing instrument, and the problem called mutism becomes history.
TREATMENT OF CHILD’S HEARING LOSS
If the child is in the condition of taking benefit from the hearing instrument, then the hearing instrument can beinserted. However, if the child’s hearing loss is at a very advanced stage so that the child could not take benefit from the instrument, then an operation we call as “cochlear implant”, and commonly referred as “bionic ear implantation” can be performed. At this point, post-operation trainings are also important. In this way, it is possible to minimalize the child’s hearing loss, to make the child carry on his/her social activities, and to enable him/her to learn speaking by hearing. Since speaking is principally learned via hearing. If we cannot identify the child’s hearing loss until the age of 5 or 6, then the child may have permanent speaking disorders or speechlessness.
LATE IDENTIFICATION OF HEARING DEFICIENCY
It is important to emphasize that the child’s first one year is critical for speaking and language abilities. If hearing loss cannot be identified on time, it may cause severe consequences. For instance, children with hearing losses may be delayed in reading and writing for at least one year compared to their peers. Academic failure of the children experiencing hearing problems is 10 times more common than it is the case with healthy children.
RELIABLE DIAGNOSIS WITH BERA
The hearing test called Bera electrically records the auditory stimuli sent to the person. In order to perform this record, electrodes are attached to the head region of the person and auditory stimuli are sent to the patient who wears headphones. This test reliably identifies whether or not the patient has hearing loss and shows the level of hearing loss for even newborn babies. In case of adult hearing losses, the Bera test works as a starting point for identifying the connection between hearing losses and tumor, for brain stem tumors, and for the diagnosis of diseases such as MS that affects on the brain stem. Hearing losses up to 95 percent can be treated with the instrument. Hearing instruments are basically divided into two as digital and analog. For those who care about esthetic appearance, behind the ear and in canal hearing instruments are available. These models are implanted inside the canal thoroughly, and cannot be seen from outside. However, if the tympanum is punctured or if there is ear drainage, in canal instruments cannot be used. Instead, behind the ear instruments are recommended. In cases the patient’s hearing varies greatly, we compulsorily use digital hearing instruments. These instruments, which are produced with more advanced technologies, can be adjusted on the instrument in case of alterations in hearing ability in the future. We can take benefit from the instruments in the cases of hearing losses up to 95 percent. The instruments have become much smaller with technological advancements. This situation reduced the amount of psychological reactions against the instrument. It is estimated that each year 40 thousands hearing instruments are used in Turkey. Aaccurately chosen hearing instrument;
- Protects you in case of difficult and dangerous situations (For instance, hearing the noise of the horn to avoid traffic accidents);
- Increases your participation in group studies by helping you to hear all sounds in your environment;
- Enables you to become more sociable, to take more pleasure in life, and to maintain a better quality life.