Deafness represents a complete or partial loss of hearing. Deafness can be congenital or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease. A person with normal hearing can identify sounds in the range of 20 to 20,000 vibrations per second. Difficulty hearing refers to a person’s inability to detect sounds at amplitude of 20 decibels (dB) in a frequency range between 800 and 1,800 vibrations per second. Two main types of deafness are conductive deafness and sensorineral deafness. However, conductive deafness may sometimes occur in conjunction with sensorineural hearing loss. In this article we will deal with conductive deafness. Conductive Deafness Introduction
Conductive deafness occurs when structures that conduct sound waves to the inner ear are affected. These structures include middle and outer ear. In most cases, conductive deafness is a short-term condition and can be treated and reversed.
Causes of Conductive Deafness
There are different causes of conductive deafness. Often, this type of hearing loss is due to an ear infection. This can be otitis media or infection of the middle ear, or otitis externa which is infection of the outer ear. These conditions are usually easily treated with antibiotics. However, in some cases it is necessary to drain accumulated fluids by inserting a tiny drainage tube into an incision made in the eardrum also known as tympanum.
Conductive hearing loss can be also caused by buildup of wax or foreign object stuck into the ear canal. This is a temporary hearing loss which can be reversed after removal of the wax or foreign body from the ear by a doctor.
Adults are most commonly affected by conductive hearing loss due to otosclerosis. It is a chronic heredity disease that causes development of bony, spongy growths in the bone that connects the middle ear to the inner ear leading to restricted vibration of the bone. This can be treated surgically, a procedure known as stapedectomy, or by using hearing aids.
Conductive deafness can also result out of rupture or perforation of the eardrum. This can be caused by exposure to a sudden loud noise, physical trauma or an infection. The eardrum can be repaired by grafting.
Individuals suffering from deafness who do not respond to medical and surgical treatments can be supported by different types of hearing aids. However, people affected by sensorineural deafness cannot be relieved by mechanical devices and require special training in speechreading and sign language. There are other aids available as well such as trained “hearing dogs”, customized telephones and closed-caption television.