Ears - hearing problems
conductive; sensory; hearing loss; hearing aids; sign language; hearing; ears; senses; deaf; deafness; signing;
Ears – special words: damage, infection (in-fek-shun), bacteria (bac-teer-i-a)
Our senses help us to make sense of the world around us.
Hearing well helps us to learn how to speak, to understand, to communicate with others and to enjoy listening to sounds that we like to hear.
It is hard for people who do not have hearing problems to understand what it is like for those people who do have problems.
This topic may help you understand a little better.
loss - deafness
- Some people hear like this (normal hearing).
- Some people hear only loud sounds (like when your ears are blocked after you have had a cold) - this is called conductive (say con-duk-tiv) hearing loss.
- -ome -e--l- -ear li-e -–i- (can only hear some sounds) - this is called sensory-neural (say sens-or-i-new-ral) hearing loss (a bit like listening to the radio when it isn't tuned in properly).
Click here (MP3 - 1Mb) to experience how people with a hearing loss might hear voices.
To hear the clip you must first save the file to your computer's hard disk, eg. in Internet Explorer, right-click on the MP3 file link (above) and choose "Save Target As...", then choose where the file will be saved.
You can then open the file with software that plays MP3 files, or transfer to an iPod or similar device.
Some people cannot hear at all because their hearing system is badly damaged or has never worked since they were born.
What can be done depends on the type of hearing loss.
- Hearing loss can be in one ear or in both.
- It can be for a short time (temporary) or for always (permanent).
This is caused by anything that makes it difficult for the sound waves to get through to the cochlea.
- wax in the ear canal
- something stuck in your ear (this is one of the reasons why it is dangerous to give small objects to small children - they might try sticking them in their ears)
- a hole in the ear drum (this can happen sometimes after a bad ear infection, but it usually heals up)
- fluid in the middle ear space
- lack of air in the middle ear space
- the bones in the ear not working properly (these tiny bones are called the hammer, anvil and stirrup)
Any of these problems affect the quantity (how much) and sometimes the quality (how good) of the sounds coming into your hearing system.
Most cases of conductive hearing loss get better by themselves after a while. Sometimes antibiotics are needed or a doctor will need to remove whatever 'foreign object' some little kid has managed to jam in his ear!
Sometimes doctors can operate to correct hearing by opening up blocked tubes, putting in artificial parts, or putting in tubes to keep the middle ear from blocking up and getting infected.
-neural hearing loss
This is caused by dysfunction (say dis-funk-shun - which means 'not working') of the inner ear or sometimes (not often) the hearing pathways in the brain. This hearing loss is permanent.
Mixed hearing loss
Sometimes a person can have both types of hearing loss.
Central hearing loss
Sometimes there is a problem with the part of the brain that works out what is being heard.
The person may be able to hear but the brain cannot make sense of what it is hearing because it has been damaged in some way (this can happen to older people after they have a stroke).
Some children can be fitted with a hearing aid.
A hearing aids acts like a microphone to make sounds louder, but it may also amplify (make louder) some sounds that the person doesn't want to hear - like all the sounds in the background.
It is important for the hearing aid to fit snugly (really well) into the ear, or they can get 'feedback' (a high whistling noise) just like a microphone.
Sometimes a hearing aid may not fit too well because you have grown.
Some children now have FM radio systems. The classroom teacher (or speaker) has a special microphone, which sends his voice by radio waves into the hearing aid. This makes it easier for the child to listen and understand, without having to put up with all the other classroom sounds being made louder.
Hearing aids may make the sounds louder, but the brain may need extra help to understand what it is hearing.
Learning to lip-read speech, and watching the speaker's facial expressions and gestures can help the brain to get the right messages.
This is what one of the early hearing aids looked like.
Some people who have a sensory-neural hearing loss and are totally deaf can be fitted with a 'bionic ear'.
This is a tiny computer which can be fitted under the skin of their head. This helps them to hear some sounds.
Why does my friend sound funny when she talks?
- People who have limited or no hearing have difficulties in learning to communicate by talking.
- They may miss out some sounds when they say words, speak in the same tone of voice (monotone), or talk really loudly.
- When you learn to talk, you copy the sounds that you can hear people making when they are talking.
- If you were unable to hear those sounds clearly then you would not be able to copy them properly.
Here's what you can do to help a friend or someone in your family who has a hearing problem.
- Stand in front of your friend.
- Make sure that she is looking at you.
- Don't cover your lips when you are talking.
- Stand facing the light so that your face can be seen.
- Move away from noisy places (like the air-conditioner).
- Speak clearly. Do not shout or move your lips more than you usually do.
- Use simple language.
- If your friend doesn't understand at first, try saying it in a different way.
- Use your hands to point or 'draw' in the air to help your friend understand.
- Write it down if your friend cannot understand what you are saying.
- Be patient. If there is a lot of noise around it will be more difficult for your friend to hear. If she wears a hearing aid remember that it makes all the sounds around louder.
- Check that your friend has understood any instructions (like when the teacher tells you what to do next or for homework). It might help her if the teacher or you write things down for her.
- Learn how to use 'signing' if your friend uses it. Even simple signs could help your friend, and it would be fun for you to learn too!
Remember that no one has any control over what they can hear, but everyone can choose to listen to some extent.
Some people have to work much harder at listening because their ears do not hear very well, or they may have a problem being able to concentrate.
|"I always sound great when I'm singing in the shower - do you?"|
Did you know that Ludwig Von Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all time, started to lose his hearing when he was 26? In the last ten years of his life he composed lots of wonderful music which he never heard being played because his hearing had gone completely.
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.