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Hearing Loss

What is Hearing Loss?

A person is said to have a hearing loss when there is partial or complete loss of hearing. Hearing loss is often described by type of hearing loss and degree of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be categorized by which part of the auditory system is damaged. There are three basic types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss (usually temporary), sensorineural hearing loss (permanent), and mixed (semi-permanent) hearing loss.

Degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss, which could be mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe or profound.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss at Birth (Congenital Hearing Loss) - congenital hearing loss can be caused by genetic or nongenetic factors.

Hearing Loss After Birth (Acquired Hearing Loss) - The hearing loss can occur at any time in one's life, as a result of an illness or injury. The following are examples of conditions that can cause acquired hearing loss in children:

  • Ear infections (very common in children)
  • Medications that are toxic to the ear (e.g. aminoglycosides, quinine, cisplatin)
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Encephalitis
  • Chicken pox
  • Flu
  • Mumps
  • Head injury
  • Noise exposure

Effect of Hearing Loss on Development

With children, it is especially important to diagnose and treat a hearing loss as early as possible. This limits its potential impact on learning and development. Hearing loss can greatly affect the quality of life for adults as well. Unmanaged hearing loss can have an impact on employment, education, and general well-being.

Hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication, and learning. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious the effects on the child's development. Similarly, the earlier the problem is identified and intervention begun, the less serious the ultimate impact.

There are four major ways in which hearing loss affects children--

  1. It causes delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language).
  2. The language deficit causes learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement.
  3. Communication difficulties often lead to social isolation and poor self-concept.
  4. It may have an impact on vocational choices.

If your child has a speech or language problem contact a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Treatment Professionals

To find the most comprehensive list of hearing healthcare professionals near you, consult the yellow pages under "audiologist", "audiology", "hearing aids" or "Physicians - Ear Nose Throat (Otolaryngology)". Here is a brief description of each hearing healthcare profession:

Audiologists identify and assess disorders of the hearing and balance systems of children and adults. Audiologists select, fit, and dispense amplification systems such as hearing aids and related devices; program cochlear implants; and provide instruction, rehabilitation, and counseling services to enhance human communication. A graduate (doctorate or master) degree is required for practice.

Hearing aid specialists assess hearing and select, fit, and dispense hearing aids and related devices. They provide instruction, rehabilitation, and counseling in the use and care of hearing aids and related devices to enhance human communication.

Otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat physicians) perform a complete medical history and physical examination of the head and neck. They also perform and supervise hearing and balance testing, which leads to the medical diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of diseases of the hearing and balance systems in children and adults. This may include prescribing medications; performing surgery including implanting cochlear implants; and selecting, fitting, and dispensing hearing aids and related devices.

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Medical Intervention

Certain types of hearing loss can be treated with medication or surgery. Your hearing professional will refer you to the appropriate physicians for medical intervention.

Hearing Aids

Today’s sophisticated hearing aids are designed to separate human voices from background noises, and hear directional sounds. Most persons with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. You achieve the best possible results with your hearing aids by consulting with a hearing aid professional. 


A cochlear implant is a small electronic device consisting of surgically implanted internal components with an externally worn speech processor. A cochlear implant will not provide normal hearing. However, it can give children and adults with significant hearing loss useful auditory information for improved communication and awareness of their environment.

A Bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a type of hearing aid which delivers sound through bone conduction. It uses a surgically implanted abutment to transmit sound by direct conduction through bone to the inner ear, bypassing the outer and middle ear\It is primarily suited to people who have conductive hearing losses, unilateral hearing loss and people with mixed hearing losses who cannot otherwise wear 'in the ear' or 'behind the ear' hearing aids.

Your hearing professional will assess and recommend the most suitable hearing solution for you.