Hearing loss can be classified into three major types: mixed, sensorineural, and conductive. Conductive hearing loss consists of various conditions, mainly because a pathology ranging from the external acoustic meatus and pinna to the end of the stapes bone can result in this hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when something hinders sound from getting through the middle or outer ear. It can also be referred to as abnormal mechanical sound transmission from the external auditory canal to the cochlea. The good news is that this condition can be corrected. Technology has allowed the development of ear prosthetics that seek to correct this hearing loss. Moreover, you can even conduct an online hearing test on your own whenever you notice any unusual signs.
Unfortunately, conductive hearing loss is common and affects a wide range of people, from infants to older people. The causes can also include a nasopharyngeal tumour in adults and trivial otitis media with effusion in kids. Therefore, it is crucial that physicians fully understand conductive hearing loss.
What causes conductive hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss is usually caused by a problem with the ossicles, pinna, footplate of the stapes, tympanic membrane, or external auditory canal. Congenital abnormalities like aural atresia often cause auditory canal and outer ear issues. These abnormalities lead to incomplete formation of the external ear and are usually present in the first branchial aperture and the first and second arches. The external canal may also suffer problems following clogging by foreign bodies, wax, and debris.
Conductive hearing loss can also result from perforation of the tympanic membrane. The perforation could result from barotrauma from deep-water diving or trauma from using cotton swabs to clean the ears.
Consequently, issues in the middle ear ossicles could lead to this hearing problem. Disease processes like otosclerosis and head trauma causing ossicle discontinuity are the main factors leading to defects in the middle ear ossicles. According to research, otosclerosis is twice as prevalent in women as it is in men. This leads to early adulthood with a gradual development of conductive hearing loss following the stapes fixation.
Finally, conductive hearing loss could also result from pathologies in the middle ear. These pathologies include otitis media with effusion, also called glue ear, and acute otitis media. Primarily, the glue ear is the most prevalent cause of acquired hearing loss in kids. The condition is usually transient and recovers spontaneously without further treatment other than monitoring. Nevertheless, hearing loss in some kids can have disastrous language and speech development issues. In an adult, middle ear effusions should be highly investigated in relation to a nasopharyngeal tumour, specifically the refractory or unilateral effusion. Cholesteatomas are another major cause of conductive hearing loss, resulting from the presence of squamous epithelium in the middle ear. Even though these are not tumours, they are usually locally harmful and thus require surgery to eliminate them.
How Has Technology Evolution Impacted Augmented Reality?
In today’s world, technology plays a vital role in making our lives easier and better. Your life does not have to stop after suffering a major accident or being born without a crucial body part. For instance, you can acquire Google glasses to improve your vision. Google Glasses include a wearable motion and voice-controlled Android device resembling ordinary eyeglasses. They display information directly in the user’s field of vision, thus facilitating augmented reality. Google Glass facilitates access to relevant data by using audio, visual, and location-based inputs. Prostheses come in handy to substitute the body part that might be lost through amputation, accident, or being absent at birth. Many people who suffer from severe infections, diabetes, and cancer have had to undergo amputations, leading to the loss of their limbs.
Also, a prosthesis provides an alternative to reconstructive surgery, like removing a breast to treat cancer. Modern prostheses for faces, ears, feet, and hands will appear natural and authentic. However, technological developments are still underway to improve the functionality of limb prostheses. The prostheses range from those implanted surgically to those attached to body parts, and most of them will require you to maintain a healthy lifestyle after the surgery.
Types of Prosthesis
- Leg prostheses are usually fitted below, above, or at the knee.
- Arm prostheses are often fitted below, at, or above the elbow.
- Hearing aids.
- Toe, foot, hand, or finger prostheses.
- Eye socket, nose, or ear replacements.
- Artificial eyeballs.
- Artificial hard or soft palate.
- Artificial breasts wore in the bra.
What are ear prosthetics?
A prosthetic ear is made up of a removable device that replaces all or part of the natural ear. It gives people who can’t have surgery to fix their ears another option besides rehabilitation. Also, it can be an alternative if a patient requests it. There are several ways in which the artificial ear can be attached, including with craniofacial implants or adhesives. Usually, ear prostheses will be cast from silicone rubber that can be customised to fit the specific pigmentation of each person.
How is the ear prosthesis attached?
Every medical practitioner should work closely with their patients and the patients families to determine the ideal attachment method. Prosthetic ears can be attached in three different ways, and they include:
- Craniofacial bone-anchored implants
Craniofacial bone-anchored implants include small titanium fixtures that are surgically implanted following an outpatient surgical procedure to attach your prosthetic ear. These titanium implants osseointegrate, or bond, with the bone, offering a stable foundation for your ear prosthesis. The procedure requires a healing period of about 3 to 6 months to allow the surrounding bones to bond with the implants. After the healing period is complete, one can snap the ear prosthesis onto the implants using Technovent magnets or clips. This method allows you to easily attach and remove the prosthesis whenever you wish.
- Anatomical Retention
When you suffer an accident and part of your natural ear remains, an ear prosthesis can be designed for you. This prosthesis will often fit like a glove over the remaining portion of the ear. But most doctors will recommend taking out the natural ear that is left to make the prosthesis easier to make. Nevertheless, most patients prefer a constructive approach, leaving their remnant ear intact. Thanks to technology, medical practitioners can overlap an entire part of the remaining ear to secure a prosthetic ear with no skin adhesive.
- Medical adhesive attachment
Did you know that a special medical adhesive can be used to hold your ear prosthesis in place? Most patients quickly adjust to using prosthetic adhesives just like they would care for contact lenses or floss. Prosthetic bonds are available in various forms, such as two-sided tape and liquid adhesive. This allows patients to select the adhesive alternative that best fits their specific needs. Most people opt for adhesive retention attachment since it offers an excellent non-surgical ear reconstruction method.
Even though some hearing loss and problems can happen naturally or at birth, it is important to take good care of your ears. Avoid factors that could trigger any type of hearing loss. Also, be keenly aware of sudden changes in your body’s normal functioning and seek medical advice immediately. While it might be tempting, do not ignore the minor warning signs you might experience. You can also take the online hearing test as a precautionary measure.