“Sorry, I could not follow you?!”
Could you please be louder?!
I am always excluded from the group due to break in communication!
These are some of the common statements that portray a degraded quality of life in patients with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss ranks third among the health conditions that affects a person’s life in various dimensions. It not only affects the person having the disability, but also the caretakes or the people around. There exists a huge effort from the person intending to communicate with the person with hard of hearing to complete a communication loop. With this breakdown of transfer of intended information, leads to several complications.
The impact of hearing loss on quality of life can be categorized into major four areas.
Functional Impact: In general, hearing-impaired people who suffer from untreated hearing loss express less physical well-being than people with normal hearing and people who use hearing aids. Some of the consequences include: Tiredness or exhaustion due to the energy spent on the effortful hearing. Researchers have found that individuals with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop Dementia proportional to the amount of hearing loss. Individuals with moderate hearing loss are twice at risk and severe hearing loss are thrice at risk for Anomia or memory issues. It has been postulated that this could be due to Atrophy (shrinking) of the Auditory Areas of brain due to lack of stimulation to that region. Thus, Auditory Deprivation to the regions of brain can lead to loss of nerve cells in the brain causing Dementia.
Emotional and Social Impact: It has been found that individuals with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. They may also avoid or withdraw from social situations. Left undetected in children, hearing loss can negatively impact speech and language acquisition, academic achievement, and social and emotional development.
This social isolation takes a hard hit on the self esteem of the patient which makes them passive to receive any help from their care takers causing behaviour issues.
In fact, a 2009 study showed that relationships are failing because of unmanaged hearing loss. The survey of 1,500 hearing-impaired people over 55 revealed that almost half (44 percent of people) said that relationships with their partner, friends or family have suffered because they cannot hear properly.
Economic Impact: Employment has been a biggest obstacle for Hard of Hearing Individuals. They have always reported of dropping their desired job prospects and prepare for a job that best suits their loss of hearing. We always come across patients who aspire to become Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers etc but settle for a different option considering themselves unfit for the profession. Total loss economically due to loss of productivity, unemployment and premature retirement among people with hearing loss, is estimated to cost $105 billion annually.
Although we know the consequences of hearing loss, hearing aids are the most used treatment option in people with hearing loss. Hearing aids are prescribed regardless of the type of hearing loss the patient has which often results in decreased benefit to the patient. However, several Auditory Rehabilitation programmes have been developed with the aim of improving communicative abilities in people with hearing loss.
Now let us have a brief insight to the other rehabilitation options the patient might benefit the most.
Bone Conduction Systems (Bone Anchored Hearing Implants)
Bone Anchored Hearing Implants are instruments that are implanted on the bone to transfer the sounds directly to Cochlea (Inner Ear).
It has an Implant, Abutment and a processor. The advantage of BAHA over conventional air conduction hearing aids is that nothing is placed in the ear canal, thus minimizes repeated ear infection in case of chronic unresolvable otitis media.
BAHA efficient sound conduction for congenitally malformed outer or middle ears (Treacher Collins Syndrome).
This rehabilitation System also offers solution to Single Sided deafness due to tumor excision, Sudden Hearing loss and Middle ear infections.
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted electrode systems combined with the speech processor unit that are beneficial to patients who have a good Cochlear and nerve anatomy but cannot benefit with hearing aids due to damaged cochlea, which is vital in give sound information to the nerves.
Cochlear Implants are the best options for children having hearing loss by birth, Post lingual nerve damage due to sudden sensorineural deafness and individuals with Tumor excision with the cochlear nerve intact.
Auditory Brainstem Implants
Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABI) are remarkably like cochlear implants except for their place of insertion of electrodes that is ‘Brain stem’. ABI is the preferred rehabilitation when there is absence of functional cochlear nerve in cases of Neurofibromatosis Type 2, Vestibular Schwannomas and cochlear ossifications where electrodes cannot be inserted into the cochlea.
In our ‘Bangalore Cochlear Implant Institute’, we offer gamut of hearing rehabilitation options. Dr. Sampath Chandra Prasad Rao is a highly experienced Skull Base surgeon who has vast experience in Cochlear Implants, BAHA and Auditory Brainstem Implant surgeries. He has also performed numerous Skull Base surgeries in the country and abroad. We have an excellent team of ENT surgeons and Audiologists who recommend the perfect hearing rehabilitation base on the patient’s need. We aim to educate more on each of the hearing options in our upcoming blogs. For any information regarding any of the hearing related queries, reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.