Support Cusco’s disadvantaged with high quality Hearing aids!
Originally from Ireland, Olwyn has studied and worked with children and adults with hearing loss and disabilities for over 6 years. Through her work she realised hearing loss is a serious condition which impacts every aspect of a person’s life.
The effects include:
* Impaired speech development
* Restricted educational possibilities
* Reduced employment opportunities
* Feelings of isolation
* Social exclusion
Olwyn’s commitment to “Bridge the Gap” led her to establish “Hear Aid Ltd”, first clinic in Cusco, Peru in 2015. “Hear Aid Ltd” is a not for profit company providing a quality, affordable hearing loss clinic for people with limited economic resources and various disabilities.
After researching many countries and organisations, Olwyn found many people in Peru who have a significant hearing loss, are not fitted with hearing aids, are not educated about the implications of untreated hearing loss and cannot afford quality hearing loss diagnosis and hearing aids. After connecting with Manos Unidas Peru, the only not for profit school for disabled children and adults, we found out that the Peruvian special education facilities consist of over-crowded classrooms, unattended children, unprepared teachers, callous attitudes and stale educational systems.
Hear Aid Ltd and Manos Unidas Peru, have teamed up to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities in Cusco. We aim to maximise the abilities and potential of individuals with hearing impairment and developmental disabilities through a humanistic, personalised approach with clear attainable goals and strict follow up.
Hear Aid Ltd and Manos Unidas Peru are working with four schools, an orphanage and people from some of the poorest areas of Cusco. We want to address the problems associated with hearing loss especially combined with other disabilities.
The first project is ongoing from March- September 2015. Previously, the clinic has been held at Phariwaspa school. Currently the audiology service is being held in a local clinic in the San Sebastian district. There is an extremely limited hearing impairment service provided in Cusco. Being one of the highest impoverished populations, we feel the need to focus on orphanages, bed ridden patients and those with limited economic resources.
Our goals include:
1. Raising awareness of the implications of untreated hearing loss
2. Providing affordable, quality hearing loss detection and diagnosis
3. Working with the hearing impaired population who suffer with further disabilities
4. Fitting suitable hearing aids and ear moulds
5. Support and advice for patients with hearing loss
6. Training local hearing specialists
7. Facilitating aftercare services
8. Continual sourcing of hearing aid donations to ensure continuity of service
9. Linking in with local health services to identify those in need
10. To facilitate volunteers to come and help with our project
11. Donating part of our fundraising to Manos Unidas Peru
We need help and support to provide hearing loss diagnosis to hundreds of vulnerable people with hearing loss and other disabilities, to fit over 200 top quality hearing aids, to transport hundreds of impressions of ear moulds to be manufactured in England, to train local audiologists and to ensure aftercare is given to all of our patients.
Support us by donating or fundraising toward our crowdfunding campaign to fit over 200 hearing aids. Each hearing aid fitted has a projected cost of £100 therefore, our funding target is £20,000.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” ― Helen Keller
Over 360 million people in the world have a hearing loss. This makes up 5% of the global population. Most people with hearing loss live in mid to low income countries. More than half the cases of hearing loss can be avoided through education and prevention (primary). Only 10% of the worlds need for hearing aids are manufactured. In developing countries only 3% of the hearing aids needed are produced.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Congenital- From Birth
• Genetic- there are over 400 different hereditary causes
• Rubella, herpes, toxoplasmosis- these infections are all transferred from the mother to the baby during pregnancy
• Low birth weight
• Birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen)
• Jaundice- during the neonatal period of pregnancy this causes damage to the auditory nerve
• Defects at birth- modifies the structure of the ear
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
SNHL is permanent. It occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear die, become damaged or diseased. This also happens when the auditory nerve is damaged. The following are examples of SNHL:
• Presbyacusis- age related
• Ménière's disease-disorder of the inner ear
• Noise induced due to working in noise or recreationally (music)
• Medicines, for example: Ototoxic
• Acoustic Neuroma: benign tumour of the vestibulocochlear nerve
• Infections during childhood, for example: measles, mumps, meningitis and scarlet fever
Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL)
CHL happens when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear. The issue is mechanical in nature. This happens when the tympanic membrane (eardrum) does not vibrate or when the ossicles (malleus, incus and stapes- three bones in the middle ear) do not conduct. The following are example of CHL:
• Perforation (hole) or scarring of the tympanic membrane
• Foreign body or object present in the ear canal
• Wax build up
• Otitis media: inflammation and or infection
• Otitis media plus effusion also known as glue ear is a build-up of fluid behind the tympanic membrane
Signs of Hearing Impairment
• Increased volume needed to hear television and radio
• Struggling to hear conversations especially in background noise
• Misinterpreting speech
• Feeling people around you are mumbling
• Feeling that certain sounds are too loud
• Asking people to repeat
• Difficulty deciphering high frequency/pitch sounds
• Dizziness (caused by acoustic neuroma or Ménière's disease)
• Tinnitus (buzzing, high pitched or other sounds in the ear)
• Pressure in the ear (fluid behind the tympanic membrane)
Preventing Hearing Loss
• Visit a doctor if you have an ear infection, earache or a sudden hearing loss
• Wear ear protection at music festivals, events or if you work in a noisy environment like mining, plumbing, or a factory
• Immunize children with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and for meningitis. Immunize adolescent women for rubella before pregnancy
• Test for and treat syphilis in pregnant women
• Refer infants who have a high risk of hearing loss (meningitis, severe jaundice, low birth weight, asphyxia and a family history of hearing loss)
Levels of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is classified into four different degrees: from mild, moderate, severe to profound. As the levels of hearing loss worsen, the person is increasingly cut off from speech and general sounds.
The following are symptoms of each category:
Mild hearing loss:
One-on-one conversations are ok. As background noise is introduced each word becomes increasingly difficult to catch.
Moderate hearing loss:
Conversations in background noise are difficult. You need to ask people to repeat themselves frequently.
Severe hearing loss:
Conversations are extremely difficult to follow and nearly impossible in background noise.
Profound hearing loss:
You need a person to shout or speak very loudly to hear. Speech discrimination is impossible without a hearing aid.
Treating Hearing Loss
The best treatment depends on the severity of the hearing loss and the underlying cause.
CHL- Conductive Hearing Loss
• Removal of wax via a trained health professional such as syringing or microsuction. Syringing removes the wax using water. Microsuction removes wax using a small hand-held vacuum
• Otosclerosis (bone disease of the middle ear)- surgery may help reverse the effects or a hearing aid can amplify the frequencies affected
• Hearing aids
• BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid)- implantable device if a digital hearing aid does not give sufficient help
SNHL- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
• Sign language (British/ American/ South American)
• Lip reading
• Cochlear implants- when one does not get enough benefit from hearing aids, a device is surgically implanted into the cochlea (hearing organ in the inner ear)
• Hearing aids
• If taking medication which is causing hearing loss to diminish, it is advisable to consult a doctor about potential alternatives
What Impact Does Hearing Loss Have?
Ear disease and hearing loss can gravely effect a child’s ability and progress in school. Speech advancement can be hindered unless help or alternative communication such as lip-reading classes, sign language, written language, speech therapy or audiological services are provided.
• Communication- social and emotional
Feelings of isolation, depression, loneliness, anger and frustration can result from hearing loss especially when one cannot communicate properly in social and work situations. If there is a lack of services to help and educate people with hearing loss or who work with the hearing impaired, the social and emotional issues attached can severely effect that person on a daily basis.
• Financial Implications
In third world and developing countries people with hearing loss have a lower rate of employment. Educational opportunities and assistance for children with deafness or hearing loss are uncommon. Raising awareness of these issues in schools, local governmental departments and with employers would increase the employability of these individuals. By educating these different bodies the needs of the hearing impaired person would be understood and more likely to be met.
Advice for living with hearing loss
Effective two way communication is crucial when living with hearing loss.
• Ensure there is good lighting
• Try to sit face to face so facial expression, lip-reading and body language can be used effectively
• Get someone’s attention before they start talking
• Turn off background noise such as the radio or television
Screening early is very important to a child’s development with hearing loss. The crucial areas include education and speech enhancement. Once a hearing loss has been detected, hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids and assistive listening devices have the ability to improve a child’s hearing loss.
Once a child/ adult is fitted with a hearing aid the following benefits occur:
• Improved speech development (child)
• Hearing better
• Increase in confidence
• Improved relationship with family and friends
• Better concentration
• Feeling more secure and independent
• Improved mental health
• Increase in energy levels
• Improved ability to participate socially
• Improved performance at work/school