The causes of hearing loss can be broadly classified into two categories: congenital & acquired. It is often seen that those who are congenitally hearing impaired are born with a damaged auditory nerve or even without one that renders them completely deaf and mute from the beginning. Conductive or acquired deafness on the other hand, can be inherited from parents or due to critical neurological illnesses, consumption of ear-damaging or ototoxic drugs, constant exposure to loud noises, aural tumors, and aging or due to head injuries. Hearing loss may or may not be accompanied by a condition called tinnitus or a constant ringing or buzz in both ears which only the patient can hear.
The other notable causes of hearing loss are Otosclerosis, a disease of the middle ear that affects the movement of the stapes or tiny bones of the middle ear. This condition usually leads to gradual hearing loss and can be cured by a surgical operation called stapedectomy (removal of the stapes) followed by tympanoplasty (reconstruction of the tympanic membrane or the ear drum). Another cause is Ménière’s disease that affects the patient’s inner ear. It leads to sensorineural hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus and a particular sensitivity to any sound that is loud. It is also seen that certain autoimmune diseases of the inner ear bring about a sudden-onset of hearing loss, which again can be arrested and reduced by prompt treatment. Ototoxic drugs are also one of the major causes of hearing loss and these include streptomycin, kanamycin, neomycin, aspirin and lasix as also certain chemotherapeutic drugs like carboplatin, cisplatin and nitrogen mustard. Moreover, those who are constantly exposed to loud noises; suffer from acoustic neuroma, a benign aural tumor; head injuries or skull fractures; ruptured eardrum; and damaged middle ear structures are also sufferers of sudden or gradual loss.
It is heartening to note, however, that hearing loss treatment in India is at par with global standards and the country has some of the best facilities to tackle the problem, both medically and surgically. State-of-the-art ENT hospitals are sprouting all over the country and provide the latest scientific advancements to tackle the problem. These include facilities for cochlear implantation, microsurgical ear ear, CSF Otorrohea repair, Mastoidectomy&Tympanoplasty. Cochlear implant for example, is the latest development for correction of or curing deafness, providing that much sought after relief to thousands of Indians who are congenitally deaf or are gradually losing their hearing.
Additional hearing loss treatment in India includes EAS that helps patients hear high-frequency sounds. Those who can’t hear high-frequency sounds are said to be suffering from Partial Deafness and EAS combines 2 technologies: CI for high frequencies with acoustic amplification to catch low frequency sounds. In their totality, they encompass the full hearing range in both adults and children. Then there is the Vibrant Soundbridge, another implant system for patients unable to wear traditional hearing aids for medical reasons; BAHA or bone anchored hearing systems that use the body’s natural tendency to transmit sound by way of bone conduction; and the Ponto System that operates on Direct Sound Transmission, providing best amplification and output. The launch of the National Deafness Program, recently has given a great impetus to the concept of hearing loss treatment in India with the Indian Association of Otolargyngologists taking an active part in not only creating an awareness about loss of hearing among the Indian masses but also taking active steps to alleviate the problem.