Total deafness is fortunately very rare, and the luckless sufferers are usually among the one in 1,000 who are born that way. Partial deafness creeps up on most of us as we get older. Those who become hard of hearing earlier in their lives are usually the victims of disease, such as middle-ear infection, or accident.
whatever its cause, hearing loss has two forms: conductive deafness and nerve deafness. In conductive deafness, damage to the eardrum or other parts of the hearing mechanism in the middle ear prevents the transmission of sound to the inner ear. Sometimes the cause is simply a build-up of earwax, or an infection has generated fluid in the middle ear. In these cases, the trouble is often easily remedied. Conductive deafness in young children is extremely common, affecting in some countries about 25 percent of those starting school. If it is diagnosed quickly, the chances of accrue are good.
Injury to the inner ear or to the acoustic verve, which carries sound impulses to the brain, are major for nerve deafness. Damage of this kind occurs frequently before birth, possibly because the mother had rubella, or German measles, during the first three months of her pregnancy. It may also happen through injury during birth.
Later in life, a number of disease – encephalitis, Meniere’s disease and some viral infections – may damage the cochlea and other delicate mechanisms in the inner ear, causing nerves deafness. The acoustic nerve often degenerates through age. One sign of the disorder is that high sounds are less audible than low sounds.
Hearing tests quickly detect which kind of deafness is causing hearing loss. One rough guide is that people with conductive deafness often speak more quietly, because their own voices sound loud to them. Those with nerve deafness tend to shout, because their own voices other wise seem faint. There is always body wonders.
Beethoven’s deafness was a blessing for music-lovers. He gave up his career as pianist and concentrated on composition