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Family Guide to a Hearing Impairment

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Family Guide to a Hearing Impairment
Around 10 million people living in the UK are deaf or have a hearing loss. Hearing loss or impairment prevents sounds being completely transmitted through the ear. If the hearing loss is only mild, the person may have trouble hearing faint or distant speech. For a person that has mild hearing loss they may benefit from using a hearing aid to amplify sounds and make life a little easier.

There are two types of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss caused by damage to the inside of the inner ear and conductive hearing loss which is where sounds cannot pass through the outer ear to the inner ear due to blockage, ear infection or perforated ear drum.

Hearing loss is inevitably down to growing old and is a common problem that often develops with age; however it is also caused by being exposed to extremely loud environments for a long period of time. Sudden hearing loss can occur which can be down to a viral infection of the inner ear, however it will usually develop as time goes on. It is very important that if hearing loss arises in one or both ears to seek immediate advice from your GP, as depending on diagnosis, treatment may need to start immediately.
There are several signs of hearing loss. These are, difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, this may include being in a large group of people or being in a one to one conversation. Another symptoms may include asking other people to repeat themselves or listening to electrical devices such as the television or the radio on a very high volume. Embarrassment or shyness may also develop in an individual by avoiding conversation and social interaction; social situations take a lot of energy and can be quite tiring and stressful, so someone with hearing loss may begin to get agitated or stressed. Physical symptoms may occur and these can range from ringing, buzzing or very high pitched noises to earache, itching or fluid coming from the ear.

Living with a Hearing Impairment

First of all support from family, friends and healthcare team will be an important factor to making the person with hearing loss feel less stressed and help keep their independence for as long as possible.

One reason for hearing loss is down to bacterial infection, it will be a necessity to clear the infection up, and this can be possibly treated with antibiotics from the advice of a GP.

Non-surgical treatments include the removal of wax via a syringe that has built up over time and is causing a blockage in the outer or middle part of the ear; this will be performed by a qualified nurse. If hearing loss is incurable because of aging then a hearing aid may be very beneficial to the individual, many different size and types of hearing aids are available to suit the person's needs.

Furthermore, surgery may be needed. If there is a large perforation of the ear, this will need to be repaired through surgery. If the help of a hearing aid does not work, there may be a suggestion of a cochlear implant; this turns sounds into electrical signals enabling you to hear by stimulating the auditory nerve.

Lastly self-help works a treat. To find it easier to hear and understand others, the persons with hearing loss could make others aware of their hearing loss to avoid embarrassment, sitting closer to the another person whilst engaging in conversation and making sure the persons face and mouth are in full view. If there is a better ear with a better hearing range, it may be a good idea to sit with the ear nearer to the group or other person. The most important self-help tip is to stay calm and not to get stressed.

Practical Aids

Some environments or daily interaction may be very difficult for someone with a hearing impairment. It's extremely hard to specify all the ways in which someone's life might be affected. Below are some valuable sensory aids that someone with hearing loss could potentially benefit from, these have been specifically designed to help and make life a lot easier whilst still allowing individuals their independence.

Sensory Aids

A hearing impairment or a hearing loss may be a very upsetting or quite infuriating to begin with. We have a wide range of products that have been manufactured to make sure someone with hearing loss maintains their independence. Hearing Aids are a fantastic product to have to help with everyday life. There are products such as the hearing amplifier and the listening system. Household aids such as the amplified telephone, doorbell amplifier and an extra loud alarm clock are also extremely beneficial.

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