International Day of the Deaf

Every year, the International Day of the Deaf is celebrated on the last weekend of September. With this event, the various deaf communities want to raise awareness for the integration of people with this type of disability into society and government agencies. To learn a little more about this pathology, we wanted to have the collaboration of the specialist in Otolaryngology and member of Top Doctors, Dr. Altuna.

Diagnosis of deafness

Five out of every thousand newborns suffer from some type of deafness of varying degrees. Every year in Spain there are 2,500 new families with a deaf child, according to data from the Commission for the Early Detection of Hearing Loss: Spanish Society of ENT, Spanish Association of Pediatrics and the Spanish Confederation of Families of Deaf People (FIAPAS). Early detection of deafness will facilitate its progression and, in some cases, total hearing loss. “The most important thing is to diagnose it and know what the cause is,” Dr. Altuna points out.

The basic technique for this is audiometry, although there are specific situations in which ENT specialists resort to more sophisticated means such as otoacoustic emissions or auditory potentials. This type of technology is more necessary in the case of diagnosis for newborns, infants and children.

Is it possible to prevent deafness?

It is estimated that 8% of the population, more than 3.5 million people, have some kind of hearing problem that makes it difficult for them to understand a conversation in a normal tone of voice, without hearing aids. Dr. Altuna mainly recommends: “avoid exposure to intense noise. In terms of early diagnosis, we emphasize the importance of universal screening for hearing loss in newborns”.

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Another consideration that should be taken into account is that it is possible to improve our hearing ability, although some training and stimulation of the auditory pathway is required before the pathology evolves to a greater degree.

Treatment and advances in deafness

With regard to treatment, Dr. Altuna, ENT specialist, explains that: “in some cases it will be possible to slow it down and prevent it. In others, it will be necessary to use drugs and in others, it will be necessary to resort to surgery”. He also indicates that in those cases where normal hearing cannot be restored by these methods, hearing aids are used or, in more severe cases, hearing implants and cochlear implants.

Finally, the most important advances are made in the field of hearing implants, where every year or every month new devices or older models come onto the market with important improvements in fundamental aspects for good hearing and improvement of the quality of life of patients with hearing needs.