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hearing loss treatment

HEARING LOSS 

Over 430 million people in the world require treatment to address their hearing loss. It is estimated that by 2050, 1 in every 10 people will have disabling hearing loss. Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 35 decibels. You can check if you have disabling hearing loss by undergoing a hearing test from an audiologist. Causes of hearing loss: Hearing loss can be caused by genetics, aging, noise exposure, medical conditions and certain medications. Signs and symptoms of hearing loss: •Experiencing difficulty in following conversations in the presence of background noise especially in parties, restaurants and crowded rooms. •Asking others to repeat what they said or speak louder. •Lip reading or looking for facial cues while others are speaking. •Hearing muffled or distorted speech. •Increasing the volume of tv or other personal devices. •Can hear what others said but cannot understand. •Feeling of fatigue after having social interactions. •Feeling of blocked ears. •Experiencing tinnitus (ringing or buzzing sounds in the ear). If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, visit an audiologist for hearing test.

impact of hearing loss

Given below are the negative consequences of untreated hearing loss: •Effects speech and communication •Causes social isolation, loneliness and stigma •Decline in cognition (process of acquiring knowledge and understanding thought process) •Effects employment and self-esteem •Increases the risk of dementia •Impacts overall quality of life

HEARIng loss treatment

Hearing loss treatment depends upon its cause. Hearing loss due to infections are treated with medications. Some types of hearing loss are treated with surgery. If the hearing loss is permanent, it is most often treated with the help of hearing aids. Hearing aids are electronic devices that amplify the sounds and direct them into the ear canal. Unlike the hearing aids of olden days, today’s hearing technology is advanced, sleek, smart and also come in invisible styles. After a thorough evaluation, the audiologist will recommend the best possible hearing technology that suits your hearing loss and personal listening needs. Cochlear implant is an electronic device that is surgically implanted in the inner ear to stimulate the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants can help people with hearing loss that cannot be treated with even the most powerful hearing aids.

hearing loss & brain health

The risk of developing hearing loss increases with age. Hearing loss affects 25% of adults above 60 years of age, 50% of adults over 75 years of age and nearly all of them above 80 years of age. Despite the high percentage of prevalence, people with hearing loss wait for an average 7-10 years to seek hearing treatment. The reason for delaying treatment can be because people do not take hearing loss seriously since they lack of awareness on how it can affect mental health and cognition. In addition, there is also the stigma of wearing hearing aids. Dementia: In the recent years, there has been increasing research linking hearing loss and dementia. If treated early, hearing loss can delay the onset of dementia or reduce its severity. Only 30 percent of the people with hearing loss wear hearing aids. Therefore, the treatment choices available for treating hearing loss and preventing dementia remain largely under-utilized. In a study spanning 12 years, with 600 older subjects it was found that those with hearing loss had higher prevalence of dementia than the older adults without hearing loss. Another study that monitored 1057 men for 17 years also found that hearing loss increased the risk of dementia by three times. Brain atrophy: Atrophy simply means degeneration or wasting away of organs/tissues due to under-use. A healthy brain needs intellectual stimulation at all times to form new cell connections. Hearing loss reduces the information reaching brain and results in an overall decreased input. This makes the brain work harder to fill in the missing gaps. This extra load results in loss of neurons and change in brain structures. The overall effects of the brain atrophy due to hearing loss are as follows: •Reduced ability to understand speech •Affected memory function •Slow information processing •Slow reaction time If you don’t use it, you lose it! Mental health: Social engagement less satisfactory for people with hearing loss due to the challenges faced in understanding speech in the presence of background noise. This can encourage them to seek solitude which gradually results reduced brain stimulation, apathy and depression. Depression associated with hearing loss is difficult to diagnose since it manifests as depression without sadness and often comes in episodes.

VERTIGO

Vertigo is a sensation of rotational motion, a feeling of spinning surroundings. Vertigo is most often caused by vestibular dysfunction. It simply means disorder of the inner ear organ that is responsible for maintaining balance. When inner ear is affected, it is called peripheral vertigo. Vertigo can also be central (brain disorders) which is rare. Vertigo can be associated with nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, tinnitus, ear fullness, headaches and visual symptoms. When fainting or loss of consciousness is experienced it should be treated as a medical emergency. Treatment of vertigo: There are several causes for vertigo and the treatment is based on underlying cause. Treatment options are medications, vestibular rehabilitation and rarely surgery. Vestibular exercises train the brain to maintain balance that ultimately decreases vertigo symptoms, movement provoked dizziness and an overall improvement in activities of daily living. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common vestibular disorder and it is treated primarily using vestibular exercises. Several randomized control trials have proven the benefits of vestibular rehabilitation exercises in the management of vertigo.

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