The first sign of hearing loss often appears with difficulty understanding conversations with one or more callers in noisy environments, such as bars, restaurants, or family meals.
But it is also usual that suddenly, “the need arises to have to turn up the volume of television to understand it well, or that his relatives complain that he does not find out when they speak to him,” warns Luis Lassaletta, head of the Otorhinolaryngology Section. of the La Paz University Hospital, in Madrid. Although there is no definite degree of hearing loss that indicates that the patient should go to a specialist , in general, it is considered that they should do so when they notice a difference in hearing between the two ears or if the hearing loss causes any developmental difficulty of daily life .
The consequences of hearing loss vary greatly depending on the age at which it occurs. Specifically, when a child is born deaf, he cannot develop language, “so it is absolutely essential to restore hearing so that the child can learn to speak. And this should be done in the first years of life, if possible in the first months, “says the specialist of the La Paz University Hospital.
However, when an adult becomes deaf they have previously developed language, but not for this reason, the consequences of hearing loss are less serious, since they mainly lead to isolation, decreased social relationships and, sometimes, depression .
Given this, it is essential to try to preserve hearing regardless of whether hearing loss occurs in both ears or only in one. In Lassaletta’s words: “people who only hear from one ear have a similar amount of hearing as those who hear well from both ears, but cannot locate sounds, have a lack of discrimination in noisy environments and suffer from the discomfort that is have an interlocutor who speaks to them on the deaf ear side ”. For this reason, more and more specialists emphasize the importance of restoring hearing in both ears, in the same way that glasses are used for both eyes.
Types of hearing loss and solutions
Hearing loss, or hearing loss, can be of two types. On the one hand, transmission hearing loss is that due to a mechanical problem, for example, a wax plug, a perforation in the eardrum “or any cause that causes the eardrum not to vibrate well or that the ossicle chain does not transmit the sound to the inner ear ”, explains Lassaletta. On the other hand, in sensorineural hearing loss the problem is in the inner ear or the auditory nerve.
Some common causes of hearing loss are presbycusis or age-related loss, deafness from medications (ototoxic), or genetic deafness.
“Aid for patients has been greatly improved. Apart from surgery for some ear diseases and hearing aids, there are numerous surgical implants that can be used when conventional surgery or hearing aids are not a good solution, “says Lassaletta. Among the best known, cochlear implants stand out , surgically implantable devices that transform the acoustic signal into an electrical signal that is transmitted directly to the nerve endings of the auditory nerve, from an electrode guide that is placed inside the cochlea. “They are especially useful, for example, for children who are born deaf and for adults with severe or profound deafness who do not benefit from the use of hearing aids,” says the expert.