The ability to hear plays a critical role in personal development and routine daily performance. Hearing impairment occurs due to issues with or damage to one or more aspects of the body’s hearing system. The US Dept. of Health & Human Services reports that 5% of kids under 18 years of age have a degree of hearing loss.
Hearing Impairment Disability
Hearing impairment is recognized as one of the ten most rampant causes of disability in the US. A person with a hearing impairment is part of a heterogeneous group whose one common characteristic is some degree of hearing loss. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act specifies the terminology “deafness” and “hearing impairment” individually. Deafness is described as a “hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification.” Hearing impairment is characterized as an “impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, which adversely affects a person’s performance.”
Hearing impairment is the result of a condition in one or more elements of the hearing mechanism. When talking about hearing impairment, there are three attributes that should be considered:
- Variety of hearing loss: part of the hearing mechanism that is affected
- Level of hearing loss: range and volume of sounds that are not heard
- Configuration (pitches/frequencies at which the loss occurred)
Hearing loss is typically defined by the proportioned hearing loss calculated with pure tone audiometry. High-frequency hearing loss has to be taken into account, due to the fact speech understanding is especially hampered in noisy conditions. Those with an intellectual impairment are regularly exposed to greater noise levels in residences and care centers. Hearing impairment is deemed to exist as hearing loss is identified above 25 dB or more at the better ear.
The CDC recommends that infants be assessed for hearing impairment earlier than 1 month of age, ideally before they depart the hospital after birth. Communication and language cultivate quickly throughout the first years of life. Undiscovered hearing impairment can contribute to delays in the child’s development. Devoid of newborn screening, youngsters with hearing impairment frequently are not diagnosed until 2 -3 years of age.
Hearing impairment may be genetic or non-genetic. Non-genetic factors include illness or injury prior to, during or immediately after birth. As many as 90% of babies with congenital hearing impairment are born to families with healthy hearing. Genetic conditions are considered to cause 50% of instances of hearing impairment in children. Researchers theorize that mutations in up to 400 different genes could possibly contribute to impairment of hearing.
Genetic factors contributing to hearing impairment include:
Syndromatic: hearing impairment happens with a specific group of birth defects. It’s not the only birth defect a baby has. This type of hearing impairment accounts for about 30% of genetic cases.
Non-syndromatic: hearing impairment is the only birth defect present. About 50% of cases of non-syndromatic genetic hearing impairment are caused by a mutation in a gene called connexin 26.
About 25% of cases of hearing impairment are caused by non-genetic elements. These include premature birth or illnesses during pregnancy, for instance:
- Rubella (German measles)
- Cytomegalovirus infections
- Herpes infection
Non-genetic hearing impairment factors occuring after birth include things like:
- Certain medications (antibiotic streptomycin)
- Childhood infections (measles, meningitis, or chickenpox)
- Head injuries
- Ear infections (otitis media)
The causes of the remaining 25% of cases of hearing impairment in infants and children are unknown .