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Deficiency Hearing

ear, deafness, defective, able and appear

HEARING, DEFICIENCY OF.—More or less marked disturbances of the faculty of hearing may exist as a hereditary affection. This is particu larly true in cases which are unaccompanied by suppurative or inflammatory processes. Deafness of one ear may remain undiscovered until each eat is tested separately. The normal ear is able to understand words softly spoken at a distance of sixty feet ; but the circumstance that a whisper is not heard beyond a distance of eighteen feet does not necessarily indicate deficiency of hearing. It often happens that persons who are hard of hearing can perceive the sounds of talking without being able to understand what is said, as the syllables and tones sounfl confused.

A perforation of the drum-membrane, not accompanied by the discharge of pus, does not necessarily affect the hearing to any great extent. Serious involvement of the membrane, however, will always cause defective hearing, because the sound-waves will then fall directly upon the ordinary apparatus in the labyrinth without being modified or regulated. In such cases an artificial drum-membrane, made of a wad of cotton, and introduced into the perforation, may afford relief to some patients. It subdues the sound-waves and prevents excessive tone impressions.

Running of the ear always affects the acuteness of hearing, and should never be treated lightly. Swelling of the tonsils, particularly of the pharyn geal tonsil, disturbs normal breathing through the nose, and clogs the Eustachian tube ; unless removed in time it will cause deficiency of hearing.

In certain diseases defective hearing, or even deafness, may appear without any apparent suppuration ; as, for instance, in abdominal typhoid, menin gitis, whooping-cough, mumps, etc. Deafness may appear also after severe hemorrhages, and in consequence of injuries to the head, with or without fracture of the skull. Old age is usually attended by a certain degree of deficiency of hearing, the high notes being the first to become difficult of perception.

Ear-trumpets seldom give satisfactory results. A trial may be made with the several varieties (see Figs. 214-218) to see which one will best answer the purpose for which it is intended. Screaming into an ear-trumpet affects the patient disagreeably ; and when speaking into such an instrument one should talk neither too loudly nor too slowly, but distinctly and naturally. Prolonged conversation with persons who arc hard of hearing is very trying and fatiguing for the voice. The frequent habit of lip-reading among the deaf is discussed in the article on SPEECH DISTURBANCES.

The various devices, apparatus and methods advertised in newspapers as being able to cure all cases of defective hearing are to be most emphatically denounced. The money spent on these is invariably wasted, and it is always better to consult a physician than to invest in any of these so-called " unfailing remedies." HEART.—For the structure and functions of this organ, see THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM in INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS (pp. 152-153).