Hearing loss comes in many forms. It ranges from a mild loss, in which a person misses certain high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of women and children, to a total loss of hearing.
There are three general categories of hearing loss:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
It occurs when the inner ear nerves and hair cells are damaged due to age, noise damage or something else. This impacts the pathways from your inner ear to your brain.
Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL)
Typical result of obstructions in the outer or middle ear due to fluid, tumours, earwax, or ear formations. This will prevent sound from getting to the inner ear.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Is caused by a combination of conductive damage in the outer or middle ear and sensorineural damage in the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing/auditory nerve.
How hearing loss affecting us?
Hearing Loss Association America (HLAA) revealed that those who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss waited 7 years before they reach out for help. Can we imagine how it would be if happening on us? Unable to hear, unable to communicate as usual, stress, isolated, eventually leading to depression. Hearing loss is impacting one’s life greatly.
- Functional impact
One of the main impacts of hearing loss is on the individual’s ability to communicate with others. Spoken language development is often delayed in children with unaddressed hearing loss.
Unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases such as otitis media can have a significantly adverse effect on the academic performance of children. They often have increased rates of grade failure and greater need for education assistance. Access to suitable accommodations is important for optimal learning experiences but are not always available.
2. Social and emotional impact
Exclusion from communication can have a significant impact on everyday life, causing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and frustration, particularly among older people with hearing loss.
3. Economic impact
WHO estimates that unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$ 750 billion. This includes health sector costs (excluding the cost of hearing devices), costs of educational support, loss of productivity, and societal costs.
In developing countries, children with hearing loss and deafness rarely receive any schooling. Adults with hearing loss also have a much higher unemployment rate. Among those who are employed, a higher percentage of people with hearing loss are in the lower grades of employment compared with the general workforce.
Improving access to education and vocational rehabilitation services, and raising awareness especially among employers about the needs of people with hearing loss, will decrease unemployment rates for people with hearing loss.
Overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures. Early detection and intervention are crucial to minimizing the impact of hearing loss in our lifestyle.
People with hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices. They may also benefit from speech therapy, aural rehabilitation, and other related services. However, global production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global needs and less than 3% of developing countries’ needs. The lack of availability of services for fitting and maintaining these devices, and the lack of batteries are also barriers in many low-income families.