Hearing Loss Diagnosis and Treatment in Thailand

Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, is a partial or total inability to hear. A deaf person has little to no hearing. Hearing loss may occur in one or both ears.

In children hearing problems can affect the ability to learn spoken language and in adults it can create difficulties with social interaction and at work. 

In some people, particularly older people, hearing loss can result in loneliness. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. 

Symptoms may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. A patient with a mild hearing impairment may have problems understanding speech, while those with moderate deafness may need a hearing aid.

Some people are severely deaf and rely on lip-reading to communicate with others. People who are profoundly deaf can hear nothing at all and can find themselves totally reliant on lip-reading or sign language. 

Some diseases or circumstances that can cause deafness include:

  • Chicken pox
  • Mumps
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Meningitis
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Syphilis
  • Lyme disease
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Arthritis
  • Some cancers
  • Teenagers exposed to second-hand smoke

There are different levels of hearing loss;

Hearing loss: this is a reduced ability to hear sounds in the same way as other people.

Deafness: this occurs when a person cannot understand speech through hearing, even when sound is amplified.

Profound deafness: this refers to a total lack of hearing. An individual with profound deafness is unable to detect sound at all.

Severity of hearing impairment is categorized by how much louder volumes need to be set before they can detect a sound.

Treatment for Hearing Loss or Hearing Impairment

  • Hearing Aids – wearable devices that assist hearing, consists of a battery, loudspeaker, amplifier, and microphone. 
    • Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these consist of an earmold and a case, with a connection linking one to the other. 
    • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids – these fill the outer part of the ear canal and can be seen. Soft ear inserts, usually made of silicone, are used to position the loudspeaker inside the ear. 
    • Completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids – these are tiny, discreet devices but not recommended for people with severe hearing loss. 
    • Bone conduction hearing aids – these assist people with conductive hearing loss, as well as those unable to wear conventional type hearing aids. 
  • Cochlear Implants – if the eardrum and middle ear are functioning correctly, a person may benefit from a cochlear implant. It is an implant that is inserted into the cochlea. It stimulates electricity through a tiny microprocessor placed under the skin behind the ear.
  • Sign Language and Lip-Reading
    • Lip Reading – also known as speechreading, lip reading is a method for understanding spoken language by watching the speaker’s lip, facial and tongue movements, as well as extrapolating from the data provided by the context and any residual hearing the patient might have. 
    • Sign Language – this a language that uses signs made with the hands, facial expressions, and body postures, but no sounds. It is used mainly by those who are deaf.

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