Despite increased awareness, the human ear continues to be assaulted with ever higher levels of noise. The inevitable consequence of this is hearing loss. The consequences of hearing loss to an individual and society are substantial. The treatment of hearing loss is therefore of paramount importance in modern society. As our population continues to shift towards higher ages, this becomes even more important.
One of the more surprising findings was that a link between hearing loss and dementia appears to exist. Whether this link is causal or merely an association is an intense area of study. Regardless, it now becomes of increased importance to maximize an individual's communication capabilities as they age.
We wrote The Ear Book: A Complete Guide to Ear Disorders as a means to introduce the complexities of ear function and disease to patients and parents struggling to understand what is affecting them or their children. In the busy clinical practice of today's ear doctors, incomplete understanding of a patient's condition may occur as both patient and practitioner feel the pressure of time. We hope this book can supplement a patient's understanding.
Five Important Takeaways from The Ear Book:
- There are many causes of hearing loss. A hearing test and a visit with an ear doctor can help establish which type you have and how best to treat it.
- As hearing deteriorates over time, hearing aids may lose their benefit. Many patients in this circumstance could benefit from cochlear implantation. It is critical to visit with an ear surgeon at a dedicated cochlear implant center to determine if one may be a candidate.
- Children will not acquire proper oral language skills without proper hearing. Either hearing aids or cochlear implants, fit as early in life as possible, can provide the quality of hearing necessary for acquisition of oral speech and language.
- Most cases of vertigo are caused by ear disorders and nearly all are treatable.
- The average child with recurring ear infections may receive more than 10 antibiotic prescriptions before being referred to an ear specialist.
Thomas J. Balkany, MD, FACS, FAAP, is the Hotchkiss Professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He is the coeditor of Clinical Pediatric Otolaryngology. Kevin D. Brown, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery and neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, where he is the chief of the Division of Otology and Neurotology. Their latest coauthored project, The Ear Book: A Complete Guide to Ear Disorders and Health, is available now.