What is Deafness?

The inability to hear things completely or partially or as well as hearing people can is referred to as hearing impairment, hearing loss or deafness. The degree to which a deaf person can hear depends on the symptoms he/she suffers from. A person suffering from a mild hearing impairment will have difficulty understanding speech, a person with moderate deafness might feel the need of a hearing aid whereas people with severe hearing difficulty may depend entirely on lip reading while communicating with others.

How is deafness different from hearing loss?

Deafness and hearing loss are quite often used as interchangeable terms. Very few know the thin line difference between both the terms. Deafness is the inability to understand speech through hearing regardless of how amplified the sound is. Deaf people can hear very little or nothing at all whereas hearing loss refers to being able to hear only faded sounds compared to what hearing people can hear. It can be both partial or complete and may be caused by a number of factors such as noise, age, disease or heredity.

Causes of hearing loss

The causes of hearing loss can be broadly divided into two main categories; congenital causes and acquired causes.
Congenital causes include heredity and non heredity factors that affect the baby at the time of birth or during the term of pregnancy. Such babies are either born with or develop hearing loss in the days following the birth. Major congenital causes include:

Acquired causes can occur anytime and therefore leads to hearing loss at any age. Some examples of acquired causes include:

Impact of Hearing loss

The ability to make use of spoken language is often delayed in children with deafness so there is always a huge communication problem they have to face. This limitation or inability to communicate well with others becomes the sole reason for feelings of loneliness, isolation and frustration to step in. These feelings cause the child to be excluded from social interaction. Majority aren’t even given access to learning sign language until later on in life which isn’t of much use since by then they have already become socially excluded.

Keeping the social impact aside, deafness can have a deep economical impact in the lives of the deaf children. In developing countries like Pakistan, deaf chidlren aren’t given the same opportunity and right to education as hearing children are. Lack of education is what has caused such a high unemployment rate amongst the adult deaf people. If there are vocational training skills offered and there is proper awareness amongst employers to understand the needs of the deaf, this situation can improve drastically.

Can hearing impairment be prevented?

Congenital deafness or deafness caused by accidents or illnesses cannot be prevented. However, risks of losing some of our sense of hearing can be reduced. To minimize such risks, it is important to safeguard our ears from loud and long exposure to noise. The loudness of any noise should preferrably not exceed 85dB as it may cause hearing loss otherwise.
You can take the following measures to prevent yourself from suffering any degree of hearing loss: