“Hearing Loss and its Impacts”

When describing effects of hearing loss on speech and language development, first we need to know what hearing loss is, as the name suggests it is lack of hearing ability or inability to hear. This could occur in any age group from a newborn baby to an old age person.

There are three types of hearing loss:

Conductive hearing loss: - In this condition, the sound cannot pass efficiently through the outer and middle ear to the cochlea and the auditory nerve. Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds. This type of hearing loss can be often corrected medically or surgically.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL): - This condition occurs when there is a partial or complete lesion in the inner ear, which involves the cochlea with the hair cells and the auditory nerve. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. In this type of hearing loss Hearing Aids are the only solution and in case of profound (hearing ability above 90dB) hearing loss, an individual can go for a cochlear implant.

Mixed hearing loss: - It is the combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss in the same ear. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and problem in the inner ear (cochlea and/ or auditory nerve) is called mixed hearing loss.

Now a days due to high level of noise pollution, genetic disorders, Illness, neurological disorders, wrong medication, high amount of chemicals and physical trauma etc; there is a drastic increase in the number of people with hearing loss with very less awareness about the same. On the basis of various surveys and studies expert found that hearing plays an important role in the speech and language development of a child. If a child is not able to hear then he/she will not be able to speak  because if he/she doesn’t  have any exposure to the world of sound then there would be no development in the brain to understand those sounds. In order to understand the meaning of any sound we need to listen it first and then use it on a regular basis.

Problems affecting children with hearing loss:

• Poor or slow increase in vocabulary.
• Delay in speech development.
• Poor speech clarity.
• Difficulty in understanding words with multiple meaning.
• Produce shorter sentences in compare to children with normal hearing of same age group.
• Tend to speak loudly.
• Difficulty in all areas of academic achievements, especially reading.
• Children with severe to profound hearing loss often report feeling isolated, and unhappy in the school.

So now we can say that hearing loss could affect a child’s speech and language development in many ways, it causes slow development of speech and language, slow language development leads to poor performance at school as it makes learning more difficult; children struggle to increase their vocabulary and communicate their ideas. Speech problems may cause problems with choosing careers, like many careers depend heavily on good oral communication skills so people with speech problems may miss out on employment opportunities. The base of these entire problems is hearing loss.

Hearing loss not only affect the children’s life, it also affects the life of adults in a very significant manner because most of the people don’t want to expose their hearing disability and as the hearing loss increase they just start making distance from their social circle or just try to avoid group discussions, and all these practices leads a person life into isolation and after that into depression. So in this way hearing loss not only affect the speech and language development of children but also affect the social life of all the individuals who are suffering from this  problem.

People who are suffering from weak eye sight problem using specs very happily, on the other hand this is such a weird thing that in case of hearing problem most of the people find it shameful to use a Hearing Aid.

Being an ENT Surgeon I recommend  Hearing Aids to all those children and adults who are suffering from mild, moderate and moderately severe (recommended only in those hearing problems which are surgically untreatable) hearing loss. This is very important for a child to start hearing as early as possible because the first three years of life is known as the critical period for the brain development as the main development of speech and language occurs during this period, and without hearing capability a child cannot develop this normal speech and language. In case of profound hearing loss an individual could go for a cochlear implant; an artificial way to start hearing and in most of the cases with the help of speech therapy cochlear implant make the hearing near to normal.

Article Topic: Hearing Loss and its Impacts
Article Compiled By : Dr. (Ex Major) Vipin Kakar
ENT Specialist In Pitampura, Rohini North Delhi.