Hearing loss is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It can occur due to various reasons, including aging, exposure to loud noise, ear infections, and genetic factors. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, affecting their ability to communicate effectively, socialise, and perform everyday tasks. In this article, we will discuss hearing loss in detail including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options (after carrying out an ear examination and hearing test to measure hearing loss).
Signs of hearing loss (hear loss)
The signs of hearing loss can vary depending on the severity and underlying cause. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Turning up the volume of the TV or radio
- Difficulty hearing certain high-pitched sounds, such as a doorbell or telephone
- Feeling that others are mumbling or not speaking clearly
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
- Difficulty hearing in one ear
What causes hearing loss?
There are various causes of hearing loss, including:
- Aging (age related hearing loss): As we age, our hearing naturally declines due to changes in the inner ear. With this type of hearing loss, typically, hearing aids are the best option as discussed below.
- Exposure to loud noise (known as noise induced hearing loss): Noise exposure, such as loud music concerts or construction sites, can damage the inner ear and lead to hearing loss. A simple method to prevent further damage and to protect from a noisy environment would be to wear ear protection, especially in a workplace and you may notice many musicians wearing ear plugs to help reduce background noise.
- Ear infections: Chronic ear infections can damage the ear and lead to hearing loss. An ear infection can present in a variety of ways and effect different parts of the ear including the; inner ear, middle ear, ear drum, outer ear or ear canal.
- Ototoxic medications: Certain medications, such as some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can damage the inner ear and lead to hearing loss.
- Genetics: Some types of hearing loss are inherited.
- Excessive wax: A blockage in the ear canal caused by wax (conductive hearing loss) is quite a common form of temporary hearing loss in all ages, however, more so in those that wear hearing aids and the older adults. This type of hearing loss can be confused with age related hearing loss as an earwax build up is quite common, particularly in older adults.
- Injury: Although rarer, it is worth including for completeness. Those that have experienced a head injury can also have their hearing affected and is therefore important to review one's complete health history. It would be advisable to have your hearing tested if you suspect hearing loss post injury.
What causes deafness?
Deafness is a severe form of hearing loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when a person cannot hear anything at all. Deafness can be caused by the same factors as hearing loss, but it is typically more severe. It can also be caused by congenital factors or injury to the inner ear.
Hearing loss treatment
Treating hearing loss depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. The degree of hearing loss can be determined by carrying out hearing tests by a hearing specialist. Some common treatments for hearing loss include (but definitely not ear candling):
Assistive devices such as a hearing aid can help amplify sounds and improve hearing for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. It is recommended to book in with a hearing aid specialist to ensure the best improvements. Hearing aids have come a long way over the years and some are so discreet they are almost unrecognisable. The adjustability is also superb with many high end hearing aids.
Cochlear implants (middle ear implants) are devices that are surgically implanted in the ear and can help people with severe hearing loss or deafness hear sounds and improve within a normal hearing range.
Ear wax removal
Sometimes, hearing loss can be caused by excessive earwax buildup, which can be removed by a healthcare professional. Often, this can cause sudden hearing loss, usually when the piece of wax occludes in ear canal completely. When this happens, it thankfully does not cause permanent hearing loss as it can be removed. Sudden hearing loss can be quite alarming, but seek a specialist such as Deeside Ear Care to take care of this for you and return your hearing back to normal.
In some cases, medications can be used to treat hearing loss caused by infections or other medical conditions.
In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to correct structural problems in the ear.
Inner ear damage, ear pain and types of hearing loss
Inner ear canal damage can lead to hearing loss and other symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo. Ear pain and hearing loss can also be caused by infections, such as otitis media (middle ear) or otitis externa (outer ear).
Hearing loss in both ears
Profound hearing loss can occur in one or both ears. Bilateral hearing loss, or hearing loss in both ears, can have a significant impact on an individual's ability to communicate effectively and may require more advanced treatment options, such as cochlear implants.
Hearing impairment causes
Hearing impairment can be caused by a variety of factors, including aging, loud noises, and genetic factors. Other causes of hearing impairment can include trauma to the ear, certain medications, and infections.
Hearing loss inner ear
Hearing loss can be caused by damage to the inner ear, which contains the delicate hair cells that are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain. Inner ear damage can be caused by loud sounds, aging, infections, and certain medications.
Symptoms of deafness
The symptoms of deafness include a complete inability to hear any sound, including speech, music, or other sounds. Individuals with deafness may also experience difficulty communicating, socialising, and performing everyday tasks.
Hearing loss causes
As previously mentioned, hearing loss can be caused by various factors, including age related hearing loss, noise induced hearing loss (through loud noises), ear infections, and genetics. Other factors that can contribute to hearing loss include smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What can cause loss of hearing?
Loss of hearing can be caused by many factors, including the ones mentioned above, such as aging, exposure to loud noises, infections, and genetics. Other factors that can contribute to hearing loss include certain medications, head injuries, and tumours.
Hearing loss symptoms
Symptoms of hearing loss can include difficulty understanding speech, asking people to repeat themselves, turning up the volume of the TV or radio, and feeling that others are mumbling or not speaking clearly. Other symptoms may include tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), dizziness, and balance problems.
Symptoms of hearing impairment
Symptoms of hearing impairment can include hearing loss in noisy environments, difficulty understanding speech, and turning up the volume of the TV or radio. Other symptoms may include tinnitus, dizziness, and balance problems.
Trouble hearing is a common problem that can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life. The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can vary, but they often include difficulty understanding speech, asking people to repeat themselves, and turning up the volume of the TV or radio. The causes of hearing loss can also vary and may include aging, exposure to loud noise, infections, and genetics. Treatment options for hearing loss depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition and may include hearing aids, cochlear implants, medications, or surgery. If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss or other hearing problems, it's essential to seek medical advice to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
Hearing loss can be hugely detremental to ones life, but there can be some very straightfoward treatments for hearing loss. From the initial hearing test to finding the causes of hearing loss, through to the various treatments options as discussed above, one of which being hearing aids/hearing devices amongst others.