International Day of the Deaf: the importance of visibility and social change

Next Sunday, September 30 is the International Day of the Deaf. On this date it is important to make visible people with hearing loss and their needs in society. For this we have the collaboration of Dr. Megía López, specialist in Otorhinolaryngology in Santander and member of Top Doctors. He explains that hearing loss can make verbal communication difficult and this progressively causes distancing, isolation and deterioration of social relationships. In addition, he says that people with hearing loss are still misunderstood in society in general, so there is still much to be done in this regard.

How can we know if our child does not hear well? Importance of early detection of hearing loss in children and how it will be treated.

Nowadays, in most of the autonomous communities, newborns are tested to check that they hear well but, nevertheless, we must be attentive if we see that they do not react to sounds or have a delay or absence of language. In the first years of life is when language is acquired and it is fundamental for this that there is good hearing at that stage.

Later, once language has been acquired, we can suspect that our child does not hear well if we notice that he/she turns the television too loud, says “what?” too many times, seems not to pay attention or the teacher notices that he/she does not listen or respond in class like other children.

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In both cases we should go to the pediatric specialist, who will assess whether it is necessary to refer the child to the ENT specialist to make the diagnosis and establish the most appropriate treatment in each case.

Types of hypoacusis and why they are usually produced

There are basically two types of hearing loss or hypoacusis:

  • Transmission hearing loss. This is when there is a problem in the external auditory canal or middle ear that prevents sound waves from being transmitted to the inner ear. Most commonly it is a wax plug or otitis, although it may be caused by other pathologies of the eardrum, middle ear or the ossicles chain. In these cases, the specialist in Otolaryngology, with appropriate treatment, will be able to restore hearing in most cases.
  • Sensorineural or perceptual hearing loss. This is the one in which the lesion is located in the inner ear or in the auditory nerve, which does not allow sound stimuli to reach the brain. This type of hearing loss may be hereditary, due to prolonged exposure to intense noise, deterioration caused by age or other less frequent causes.

How to deal with different types of hearing loss

Transmission hearing loss, as mentioned above, can be solved in most cases with medical or, sometimes, surgical treatment. Sensorineural hearing loss can benefit from the adaptation of a hearing aid or, in cases of profound deafness, a cochlear implant.

In this type of hearing loss it is important to start treatment with hearing aids as soon as they are necessary, otherwise social isolation may occur and, in addition, the lack of auditory stimulation worsens the deterioration of the auditory nervous system and the cerebral cortex.

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It has been shown that people stimulated early with hearing aids maintain better recognition of sounds in their environment than a patient without a hearing aid.