Causes of Hearing Loss Being deaf is a handicap that afflicts millions of people around the world every year. Hearing loss can result from any number of afflictions that can affect the outer, middle, or inner ear. The range of hearing loss can also vary from mild to severe. The ear is made up of the outer, middle and inner ear. The outer ear consists of the auricle, the external auditory canal and the lobe. The outer ear helps to funnel sound and noise into the middle ear. The middle ear consists of the eardrum and the three middle ear bones, the Mallues, Incus, and the Stapes. The middle ears primary function is to conduct sound. The inner ear is where sound is interpreted through electrical impulses relayed to brain into understandable sounds that we recognize. (Lucente3-8) The labyrinth of the inner ear contains the nerve endings of the vestibular nerve–the nerve of equilibrium-and the auditory nerve, which are branches of the vestibulocochlear, or eighth cranial, nerve. The vestibular nerve ends supply the semicircular canals and the otolithic membranes in the vestibule. The auditory nerve supplies the cochlea. Diseases of the labyrinth of the inner ear may affect both the vestibular nerve and the auditory nerve, or they may affect only the auditory nerve, with loss of hearing. (Lucente 6) The most common causes of inner-ear diseases are congenital nerve deafness, viral infections, and ototoxic drugs. Congenital nerve deafness is a defect of the auditory nerve in the cochlea and may be present at birth or acquired during or soon after birth. Usually both inner ears are affected to a similar degree, and there is a severe impairment of hearing, although in some cases of congenital nerve loss the impairment can be moderate. Many cases of congenital nerve deafness have been caused by the rubella (German measles) virus in the mother during the first three months of her pregnancy. This can happen during a rubella epidemic,…
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