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Feature Article

The essentials of managing hearing loss

Melville da Cruz

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Abstract

Hearing loss is a common condition that can have a great impact on a patient’s quality of life. Hearing aids are an effective treatment for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss and surgical options may be available for those with more severe loss.

Key Points

  • Hearing loss is very common in the community. Mild-to-moderate hearing loss affects one in five adults by the age of 50 years.
  • Moderate-to-severe hearing loss has a measurable impact on quality of life, employability and, in the elderly, independent living and cognitive decline.
  • Hearing loss is best classified as conductive, sensory neural or mixed. This simple classification guides the clinical evaluation, range of available treatments and response to treatment.
  • History, otoscopy and tuning fork tests allow most causes of hearing loss to be diagnosed, allowing a management plan to be formulated.
  • Surgical treatment for conductive hearing loss is generally successful. Cochlear implants are the treatment of choice for severe sensory neural hearing loss.

    Picture credit: © Rich Legg/iStockphoto.

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