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Hearing Loss Not more than a few decades ago deaf children would never learn to speak. They would be referred to as deaf mutes and people thought that the reason they had a hearing loss and couldn't speak was because their brain functioned wrong and they didn't know how to use their vocal cords. Scientific research and technology have proven that these two theories are wrong and that people with a hearing loss can indeed talk. They just need lots of encouragement and hard work at learning proper speech. There is no one type of hearing loss or one way to lose your hearing. An accident, infection or a very loud noise like a dynamite blast can cause the eardrum to tear or rupture. If it is a small tear, the hearing loss will be temporary after the eardrum heals itself. However, if the tear is large, the loss of hearing is permanent, although not necessarily a one hundred percent loss. If the eardrum is ruptured, it will not vibrate when sound waves hit it, so no sound is transmitted to the brain. Another common hearing loss occurring mostly in children, called otitis media (inflammation in the middle ear) is caused by an infection or an allergic reaction. In otitis media, the membranes swell with fluid and puss which accumulate in the middle ear preventing vibrations from reaching the cochlea. Otitis media can usually be cleared up by placing a tube in the middle ear to drain out the fluids and let air to the eardrum. There is no permanent hearing loss. Middle ear deafness is more typical to older people and is called otosclerosis. Middle ear deafness is caused by bony growths on the tiny stirrup, hammer and anvil bones, stiffening them together so that when the ear drum sends vibrations, the bones don't vibrate and send sound waves to the inner ear. Often, this problem can be fixed by surgically replacing the 3 bones with artificial ones or if the middle ear deafness is mild, hearing aids can be worn to amplify sound. The two most common hearing losses are conductive hearing loss and perceptive hearing loss. In conductive hearing loss the vibrations don't reach the inner ear. Some conductive hearing losses are easy to correct. An object or a buildup of wax blocking the ear canal can prevent sound waves from entering the ear. This is easily resolved by syringing (jets of warm water that flush out the blockage). Perceptive hearing loss occurs when there is a fault in the cochlea or the nerve to the brain. If the problem is in the corti, a hearing aid usually helps. However, once the hair cells and nerve fibers have been damaged, it cannot regenerate and hearing loss is permanent. That is why it is so important to take care of our ears by avoiding loud noises especially if we are exposed to them every day. Scientists are working on ways to help the hard of hearing hear better. One brilliant invention that is very popular, is the hearing aid. Hearing aids help detect sound waves coming into the ear. It then turns the waves into electric signals, amplifies them and changes them back to sounds that are played back towards the eardrum. The hearing aid is small and fits behind the ear out of sight. If the hearing aid is of no use (if you are completely deaf), lip reading and sign language are very useful. My questions answered by an audiologist Q: What kinds of hearing losses are there? A: There is mild loss where it is difficult to hear whispering and certain letters of the alphabet. With moderate loss you have trouble hearing babies cry or wind blowing. In severe loss you can't hear the telephone, pianos, dogs or similar sounds. Profound loss is total deafness in which case you can't hear anything. Q: Can you ever regain your hearing after losing it? A: In most conductive hearing losses, hearing can be restored by draining out fluids in the ear or by surgery. If you underwent chemotherapy you would use a medication that causes hearing loss but once you go off the medication, hearing returns. In some cases, however, it may not return to one hundred percent. Q: What are the most common ways that people lose their hearing? A: Hearing loss can be genetic just like you might have blue or brown eyes. Hearing can be lost through sicknesses like meningitis. If a woman contracts rebella in pregnancy, chances are high that the child will have hearing loss. Everyday exposures to loud heavy machinery, guns, music and injury to the head also contribute to hearing loss. Q: What is the difference between hearing impaired and deaf? A: Hearing impaired is mild, moderate or severe hearing loss. It also refers to hearing that falls below normal. Deaf is when there is no hope in any way of regaining your hearing and you cannot hear even the loudest noises. Q : Why don't hearing impaired people like loud noises? A: Hearing impaired people don't like loud noises because they are used to listening to quiet sounds. Also the cochlea produces the loud sounds too fast and loud which makes the noise sound three times the volume it is to people with normal hearing. When this happens it is called recruitment. Q: Why do some people with hearing loses wear hearing aids and others don't? A: Some people prefer not to wear hearing aids because they think that it draws attention to the fact that they are hard of hearing. People who have a severe hearing loss don't always wear hearing aids because no matter how loud they turned up the volume the hearing aid sounds like an out of tune radio station. Q: Why are some people born with hearing loss? A: People who are born with hearing loss might have relatives with a hearing loss too. It can be genetic. Also if the mother has to use powerful medications during pregnancy or she uses drugs and drinks. If a pregnant mother gets really sick, it can affect the baby's development which can also cause hearing loss. Q: How can people help make hearing and understanding easier for people with hearing loss? A: We

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