Deafness

What is deafness?

Deafness is the partial or complete loss of hearing. Deafness can be caused by:
• Conductive hearing loss – blockage of transmission of sound in the ear canal due to build-up of wax (cerumen) in the ear canal.
• Sensorineural hearing loss – affects cochlea (hearing cells) or 8th cranial nerve and CNS pathways may show transmission faults;
• congenital deafness;
• toxic effects of chemotherapy (nitrogen mustard or cisplatin); and
• brainstem tumours.

Deafness is also caused by the following conditions:
• Tympanic sclerosis – tympanic membrane undergoes some hardening due to scarring after an ear drum perforation.
• Otosclerosis – genetic condition where the stapes, one of the 3 hearing bones, fuses with the tympanic membrane and leads to a conductive hearing loss in the middle ear.
• Cholesteatoma – condition caused by a benign tumour.

How is deafness diagnosed?

The ear specialist (otolaryngologist) will arrange audiometry, a test where the threshold of sound recognition is measured in a sound-proof chamber using different frequencies between 250 and 8000 Herz. This is plotted on a diagram (called audiogram) for both, the right and left ear.

A test of speech discrimination can also be performed. Other sophisticated tests use various electronic instruments where the vibrations of the tympanic membrane (tympanometry), reflex between sound formation and stapedius muscle contraction 정보센터가 (acoustic reflex testing) can be measured.

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