Deafness means a lack or loss of the sense of hearing, which may be partial or complete. Partial loss of hearing is often called hearing loss rather than deafness.
Deafness can occur in one or both ears.
There are three primary types of hearing loss:
Conductive—hearing loss caused by the inability of the sound to reach the inner ear. This can result from outer or middle ear problems, such as ear infection, excess wax, or swelling. This type of hearing loss is most likely to respond to medical or surgical treatment.
Sensorineural—hearing loss caused by disorders of the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type of loss is usually permanent. It can be caused by heredity or congenital problems, excess noise, old age, medications, infections such as ear infections and
Symptoms of deafness in infants may be noted at these stages:
1 to 4 months: lack of response to sounds or voices
4 to 8 months:
Disinterest in musical toys
Lack of verbalization, such as babbling, cooing, making sounds
8 to 12 months: lack of recognition of child’s own name
12 to 16 months: lack of speech
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children (including newborns) should be screened for hearing loss so that hearing loss occurring before birth can be uniformly detected prior to three months of age.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. As part of the diagnosis, your doctor may try to determine the following:
Location of the problem
Degree of loss
Cause—not always possible to identify the exact cause of hearing loss; this information can help guide treatment
Depending on the type of hearing loss you have, the doctor may order tests to confirm your diagnosis. Tests may include:
Otoscopy—examination of the structures inside the ear
Bone vibrator (also called a tuning fork test)—helps to determine the type of hearing loss
Tympanoplasty tubes—for persistent middle ear infections or fluid
—a surgically implanted electronic device that helps provide sound to a person with severe sensorineural hearing loss (although the devices do not completely restore hearing, improvements in implant technology continue to be made)
To help prevent deafness, avoid loud noise. In cases when loud noise cannot be avoided, you can reduce exposure to loud noises by wearing earplugs, earmuffs, or ear protectors. Also, taking steps to reduce injuries or disease may prevent certain types of deafness.
There is currently no effective way to prevent congenital or genetic deafness.
Hearing screening for newborns can help insure that hearing loss in young babies is detected and treated at the earliest possible stage.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a