Hearing loss is a common problem that exists when there is diminished sensitivity to the sounds normally heard or speech frequencies. In other words, sound signals not reaching the brain It is often caused by repeated exposure to loud noises or development in age.  The severity of a hearing loss is categorized according to the increase in volume above the usual level necessary before the listener can detect it.

 

Types

It is categorized under three types:

  1. Conductive Hearing Loss- This is caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells inside the inner ear or damage to the auditory nerve. It usually occurs naturally with age or as a result of injury in the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear and its little bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes).
  1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss- This occurs when sounds are unable to pass from your outer ear to your inner ear, often because of a blockage such as earwax, glue ear or a build-up of fluid from an ear infection, or because of a perforated ear drum or disorder of the hearing bones. It is also known as nerve-related hearing loss.
  2. Mixed Hearing Loss- This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. That is, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear, and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.

 

 

Causes

Causes of hearing loss vary depending on the type.

For conductive Hearing Loss:

  • Malformation of outer-ear, ear-canal, or middle ear structures
  • Fluid in the middle ear as a result of colds.
  • Ear infection (such as, otitis media; an infection of the middle ear caused by an accumulation of fluid that may interfere with the movement of the eardrum and ossicles)
  • Poor function of the Eustachian tube.
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors.
  • Impacted earwax.
  • Infection in the ear canal.
  • Foreign body in the ear.

For sensorineural hearing loss:

  • Exposure to loud noise.
  • Head trauma.
  • Virus or disease.
  • Autoimmune inner ear disease.
  • Aging (presbycusis).
  • Malformation of the inner ear.
  • Meniere’s disease.

Some people were born with hearing loss, but in most cases, it develops as you get older.

 

Symptoms/sign

Hearing loss can occur suddenly, but usually develops gradually. General signs of hearing loss can include:

  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say.
  • Asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Listening to music or watching television with the volume turned up higher than other people require.
  • Difficulty using the telephone.
  • Loss of sound direction.
  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially of women and children
  • Difficulty in speech discrimination against background noise (cocktail party effect)
  • sounds or speech becoming dull, muffled or attenuated

 

Prevention

  • Do not set the volume of Television, radio and music players too high. Children especially are very sensitive to the damaging effects of loud music. Researchers found that noisy gadgets put children’s hearing at risk.
  • Avoid excess usage of Headphones (especially loud ones).
  • Immunization against rubellato prevent congenital rubella syndrome.
  • If you work in a noisy environment, wear ear plugs or ear muffs. Even in discos, nightclubs, and pubs- ear plugs are discreet and hardly noticeable.
  • If you go to pop concerts, motor racing, drag racing and other noisy events, wear ear plugs.
  • Immunization against H. influenza and S. pneumoniae to reduce cases of meningitis.
  • Avoid excessive noise exposure.
  • Immunization against measles, mumps, and meningitis.
  • Prevent premature birth.
  • Avoid self medication
  • Avoid the use of Cotton swabs or cotton buds.

 

Treatment

Treatment of hearing loss depends on its cause and severity. Conductive hearing loss is sometimes temporary and can be treated with medication or minor surgery, if necessary. In the case of sensorineural hearing loss, there are several options that may help a person to improve his/her ability to hear and communicate. These are:

  • Digital hearing aids that is available through the NHS.
  • Bone anchored implants which are suitable for people who are unable to use hearing aids and for some levels of sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Middle ear implants mostly suitable for some people who are unable to use hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants for people who find hearing aids aren’t powerful enough
  • Lip reading and/or sign language such as British Sign Language (BSL)

 

However, more major surgery may be required to fix the ear drum or hearing bones. If conventional hearing aids don’t work, there are also some implantable devices for this type of hearing loss, such as a Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs).

 

Article by eDokita Team

 

Reference

  1. Hearing Loss Association of America, types & causes. 2016
  2. NHS-Choices, Hearing Loss Introduction, Symptoms and why it happens. 2015. Web
  3. Medical News Today, Prevention of Hearing Loss. 2016. Web
  4. Wikipedia, Hearing Loss Overview, prevention and symptoms.2016. Web