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Hearing and speech impairments can affect anyone, both children and adults. There are many causes for these impairments, whether it’s physical, developmental, or from an illness, and there are many ways to treat them.
Hearing impairment is a condition in which you can’t completely receive sounds through your ears. It can fluctuate or be permanent. The amount of loss can vary from being hard of hearing to complete deafness.
Hearing loss can either be conductive or sensorineural.
Conductive hearing impairment relates to:
Sensorineural hearing loss relates to one of the following:
Hearing loss can be due to a wide array of things, including:
These problems can affect one or both of your ears. Treatment can include medicine or, in some cases, surgery. Other treatments include:
Speech impairment, also called communication disorder, or voice disorder, is a condition in which you have trouble forming sounds. Speech impairments vary, from occasionally not being able to produce sounds, to not being able to produce sound at all. Symptoms of speech impairment include:
Speech impairment can be a problem with the following activities:
Speech impairment can be caused by many things, such as:
Some mild speech disorders disappear after time. Treatment aims to improve articulation through speech therapy, and by strengthening vocal cords and other muscles used to make speech.
Many different treatments help hearing problems. Hearing aids and cochlear implants amplify sounds for better hearing. Other techniques, such as lip reading, can help you learn to adapt to hearing impairment.
Early intervention in children, before 6 months of age, can help them develop and learn at the same rate as their peers. Because children with hearing impairments learn the skill of hearing, rather than recover from their impairment, it’s often called hearing habilitation.
Hearing habilitation includes:
Cochlear implants can also be helpful. These are devices that are surgically implanted into your ear. They use microphones to detect sound and transmit it to your auditory nerve, avoiding damaged portions of your ear.
Hearing rehabilitation helps adults with hearing problems. These services include:
Speech therapy can help individuals with a range of speech impairment conditions, such as:
Your speech therapist will create a program for you, including:
You may also have to practice exercises to strengthen your muscles for eating and swallowing, if you have trouble swallowing.
Many organizations can help you learn more about hearing and speech impairments. These include:
There are also resources for:
It also provides information about advocacy and health insurance.
Hearing and speech impairments can occur in anyone. They may be the result of a particular circumstance, or a combination of causes:
If detected early in children, extra care and assistance can keep your child learning at the same rate as their peers. Whatever your age and situation, there are many programs and services available to assist you with hearing and speech.
Written by: Janelle Martel
Medically reviewed on: Mar 21, 2016: University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
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