- Impact on patient's life
- Cultural or regional significance
What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?
Patients who need hearing aids present with a variety of conditions, including cholesteatoma, conductive hearing loss, ear drainage, sensorineural hearing loss, otitis media-inflammation of the middle ear, or a perforated ear drum/tear in the ear drum. Patients are unable to perceive speech and sounds, leading to impaired speech.
What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?
Patients are unable to perceive speech and sounds, they have impaired speech and language development, impaired communication, difficulties in learning, and avoidance/withdrawal from social situations.
What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?
The prevalence of disabling hearing loss in children and adults is greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia and Asia Pacific. Certain infections (e.g. meningitis and ear infections) may cause hearing loss if not treated promptly.
- Impact on patient's life
- Risks and side-effects
What does the treatment process look like?
Patients are fitted for hearing aids, which are electrical devices that assist in optimizing perception of speech and other sounds. They amplify sound and thus improve hearing. They are designed for hearing impaired individuals.
A basic hearing aid consists of a microphone (collects sound energy), amplifier (increases amplitude of impulses collected), earphone/receiver (converts electrical energy into sound), battery (provides power supply), and mould (holds the hearing aid in place and acts like a seal and volume control). Generally, they can be categorized by technology and style. Selection depends on hearing loss, cosmetic appearance, and cost.
What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?
Patients will gain the ability to perceive speech and sounds, have improved speech and language development, improved learning ability, and active participation in social situations.
What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?
Not using the optimal hearing aid or not using it in the correct way could lead to uncomfortable side effects, including bad fitting, headaches and tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and improper sound level and quality. However, this can be easily avoided and fixed with the assistance of an audiologist.
How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?
There are few quality centers with the specialized personnel (audiologists and ENT doctors) that offer this kind of service, but the cost of hearing aids is a major deterrent for patients to access care.
What are the alternatives to this treatment?
For many hearing disorders, there is no actual available cure. However, there are assistive devices like hearing aids and promising new treatments that allow patients to manage their hearing disorders.