Hearing Loss and Deafness:

Some Essential Details

World is a wonderful place, full of beautiful sights and sounds. The first cry of a newborn baby, the cries of birds and animals, the waves lashing against the shore or the sound of a stream fill us with joy and make us feel alive. For all living things, sound is a way to communicate with one another. We learn to speak by listening to the spoken word, we get out of harm’s way with our ability to hear. Hearing is one of the five senses that help us to live our life in comfort.

Hearing loss is a partial or total inability to hear. It can affect one or both ears and can be temporary or permanent. In children, loss of hearing can affect the ability to learn language. In older people, hearing loss can result in depression brought on by a sense of loneliness.

What are the reasons for hearing loss? Genetics, ageing, exposure to noise, ear infections, injury to the ear, and certain medications are the common culprits. If one is not able to hear 25 decibels in at least one ear, it is considered a case of hearing loss.

It is estimated that about 10% of the world population is affected by loss of hearing to some degree. But hearing loss is preventable. With immunisation around pregnancy, avoiding exposure to loud noise, and avoiding certain medications can help prevent loss of hearing. The deaf can use hearing aids, sign language, and cochlear implants to communicate with others.

So what does it feel like to be deaf? In the words of Sean Berdy, the American actor, “I was born deaf. I was raised in a hearing world and in a deaf world at the same time. I can't say that I like one better than I like the other. I like them both. I speak pretty well; I gesture. If I don't understand something, you know, pen and paper, texting. I use it all.”

The right attitude can help one overcome even the toughest of adversities. Sean is a youth icon and was named the 2010 Mr. Deaf Teen America. Helen Keller, the American author, political activist, and lecturer, who overcame physical disabilities in spite of being born blind and deaf, inspired generations of people - both able-bodied and those with special abilities - to realize their dreams. These beautiful words from the icon are inspiring and heartwarming:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

Disclaimer:

The aim of the article is to be informative in a general way. Always seek expert medical advice.