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Hearing report

Doctor of medical sciences Michał Michalik
Specialist of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery
Medical Centre MML in Warsaw








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Are there situations when you don’t perfectly understand sentences addressed to you?
Do you get the feeling that everyone is talking more quietly?
Are you ashamed to ask someone to repeat, because you didn’t understand?
Or maybe you have the feeling that your ear is “clogged”?

We frequently don’t realize that we are losing our hearing. It is worth remembering that hearing loss can progress so slowly that we get accustomed to worse hearing. In 2012, a National Hearing Test was conducted. It covered approximately 15 thousand residents from 70 Polish cities. The test results are not optimistic. Every third Pole has trouble hearing. Hypoacusia appears in almost half of 40-year-olds. Even 4 million Poles may be at risk to hearing diseases.

What are the causes of hearing impairment?

The factors adversely affecting the hearing condition may be: noise in the environment, incorrect ear care or lack thereof, the use of some drugs, contact with toxic substances, past diseases of the outer, middle or inner ear, inflammatory, viral and bacterial diseases, cancers, genetic medical history, viral, bacterial and protozoon infections during pregnancy, ototoxic or teratogenic drugs during labour, anoxia, jaundice with high levels of bilirubin may also cause severe hearing disorders.
In this article, we will focus only on a few factors which have a negative effect on hearing.

Noise

The number of people who have lost their hearing due to excessive noise is growing at an alarming rate. Every severity of sounds that exceed 85 decibels (dB) is bad for your hearing. The noise gradually damages the sensory receptors. Violent, excessive sound, e.g. an explosion, could lead to acoustic injury, or even to bursting the tympanic membrane, along with damage to the auditory ossicles. Approximately 70% of Poles complain about street noise. The environment in which we live generates noise at the level of 80-90 decibels. Many people work in places where permitted noise standards are exceeded, without using the recommended protection. Therefore, approximately 17% of occupational diseases in Poland are cases of permanent hearing loss. A large number of children and youth listen to loud music on earphones. This is also a cause of significant hearing impairment.

Congenital and acquired hearing defects

Congenital hearing defects are damages to hearing accompanying damage to the structures conducting sound classified as conductive hypoacusia or the structures responsible for converting the auditory stimulus into a nerve impulse directed to the cerebral cortex and transmission of this impulse, classified as sensorimotor-nervous damage. These diseases may be genetically conditioned or may be the result of damage occurring during fetal life, and are called congenital hypoacusia.
The second group are hearing defects appearing after birth, called acquired hypoacusia. They appear after birth as a result of injuries, toxic damage or infections during early childhood. They can arise in the course of infectious diseases, such as mumps, measles, shingles during adult life. However, they are most often the result of aging as a natural process, during which the elements of our ear are subject to progressive wear. It can be observed globally that there is a steady increase in the percentage of people in old age, in whom hypoacusia is diagnosed very often.

Proper ear hygiene

The lack of regular and proper ear hygiene can lead to excessive buildup of earwax. This excess may impair hearing in the long-term, cause inflammation of the outer ear and even lead to more serious complications. In our ear there is a yellow-brown substance, which is a mixture of secretions of the sebaceous glands, sweat glands and cerumen glands, as well as flaked epidermis, hairs and dust particles. This is earwax, which can assist self-cleaning, moisturizing, and above all it is to protect the ear canal from bacterial infection. Unfortunately, it happens that there is too much earwax in the ear or it does not naturally move to the outside of the ear. In this case, its removal must be helped so that an earwax plug does not form. The daily care of the ears should begin from cleaning the pinna with warm water. One can be assisted by delicate cleansing preparations, but above all, one must regularly use products which dissolve, remove earwax and moisturize the ear canal in
the most natural way possible.

The earwax plug as the cause of impaired hearing

If our ear hurts more and more often, our hearing is worse, we have the feeling of a “clogged ear” or humming in the ears. Usually, the problem occurs suddenly, often after bathing, because under the influence of moisture, earwax swells causing pain and discomfort in hearing.
In order to prevent the formation of a earwax plug, one must apply prevention, i.e. proper hygiene of the ear canal on a daily basis. This applies in particular to:
infants and children whose ear canal has a specific build,
the elderly, in whom overproduction of dry, hard earwax occurs with age,
people using cotton buds to clean ears, which pushes the earwax into the external ear canal, causing an earwax plug/clot (this method of cleaning ears is not recommended by doctors),
people involved in watersports and bathing often,
people wearing hearing aids,
people using earphones and in contact with a lot of noise.
Laryngologists recommend taking care of ear hygiene regularly. Take care of your hearing.


Doctor of medical sciences Michał Michalik
Specialist of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery
Medical Centre MML in Warsaw

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