Hearing Loss: Everything You Need To Know

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Published on 13/08/2020 . 4 mins read
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Know the Basics

Most people rely on sound in basically everything they do. In the morning, you rely on the sound of your alarm clock to wake up. The ding of the microwave signals that your breakfast is ready to eat. The mere act of communicating with other people involves talking and listening to each other. For people who are deaf, these experiences just aren’t the same. Learn more about hearing loss, types of deafness and more, here.

People who live their lives with a total or partial hearing loss live in a world of silence. The challenges they have to tackle each day are much more complex compared to those who can hear. Learn more about deafness, its causes, symptoms, associated risks, and how you can prevent this from happening to you.

What Is Deafness?

Deafness is defined as having partial or total hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, 466 million people or 5% of the world’s population suffers from disabling hearing loss. 

A person with normal hearing should have a hearing threshold of 25 decibels or higher in both ears. But someone with hearing loss is anyone who has a lower hearing threshold. Hearing loss can affect only one or both ears. It can also range from mild to profound loss of hearing.

People who are “hard of hearing” are those with mild to severe hearing loss but can still be assisted by hearing aids or transplants. People who are considered “deaf” are those who can only hear very little or none at all. Finally, those who are deaf usually rely on sign language to communicate.

Hearing loss can range from:

  1. Mild: If you suffer from mild hearing loss then you will be able to hear some conversational sound but may have difficulty hearing soft sounds like whispers.
  2. Moderate: If you suffer from moderate hearing loss, you will only be able to hear very little from a person talking at normal volume.
  3. Severe: If you suffer from severe hearing loss then you’ll only be able to hear a few loud noises. 
  4. Profound: If you suffer from profound hearing loss, you will only be able to hear very loud sounds.

Types of Deafness

Hearing loss or deafness can be caused by a variety of factors. Common types of deafness or hearing loss include:

  1. Conductive Hearing Loss: This type of loss of hearing is characterized by sounds not being able to reach the fine bones within the ear. Conductive hearing loss can usually be reversed through medication or surgery.
  2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Sensorineural hearing loss is among the types of deafness that are permanent. It frequently  results from damage to the parts within the ear. Hearing aids are the only remedy.
  3. Mixed Hearing Loss: If a person suffers from mixed hearing loss, they are suffering from both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss brought about by damage to the outer, middle, and inner ear. 
  4. Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder: When a person has Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD), sound that travels into the ear canal isn’t recognized by the brain.

Types of Hearing Loss: What You Need to Know

Causes

What Are the Causes of Hearing Loss?

There are many possible causes of hearing loss, namely:

  • Earwax: Over time, a gradual build-up of earwax in the ear canal and block the sound waves from reaching the inside parts of the ear. 
  • Inner ear damage: Nerves in the cochlea which are responsible for transmitting sound for processing by the brain may become damaged due to loud noises. Or they may become worn out because of age. This can cause partial or total hearing loss.
  • Tympanic membrane perforation: This is also known as a ruptured eardrum. Eardrums can become ruptured by loud noises, pressure, and even infections. 
  • Abnormal growths: Tumors can form in the external or middle ear, which can have effects on how your ear receives sounds.

Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?

Gradual hearing loss can happen slowly which is why some people don’t immediately notice that they’re starting to become hard of hearing. Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Not being able to understand or hear what someone else is saying
  • Listening to music or watching TV at a volume much louder than you’re used to
  • Noticing that some sounds become muffled
  • Having to pay more attention to what people say in order to understand them

Some babies are born with hearing loss so make sure to watch out for these symptoms in your baby:

  • Unresponsive to loud noises
  • Not babbling or saying words like “mama” or “dada” by the time they reach 12 months
  • Doesn’t respond to their name
  • Doesn’t hear all types of sounds

Treatment

How Is Hearing Loss Treated?

Hearing loss caused by a build-up of earwax can easily be treated by removing the mass. But if hearing loss is caused by abnormalities or deformities, your doctor may suggest surgical procedures to help you regain your hearing. Depending on the types of deafness, other options for treatment are hearing aids or cochlear implants that are usually recommended for those with moderate to profound hearing loss.

Prevention

How Do You Prevent Hearing Loss?

There are a few things you can do to prevent hearing loss that’s acquired from damage to the eardrum. Also, there are some  things you can do to prevent age-related hearing loss from worsening, namely:

  • If you frequently listen to music while wearing earphones, try to lower the volume.
  • Use protective gear for your ears when doing recreational activities.
  • If the nature of your work requires you to be in noisy environments, try to get your hearing checked by a professional regularly. It is also a good idea to wear ear plugs as necessary.

Conclusion

Deafness is defined as having an impaired sense of hearing, or a total loss of hearing that prevents you from doing things like verbally communicating with other people. There are many types of deafness and the causes of hearing loss can also vary. Luckily, treatment is available for all types of hearing loss. If you suspect that you have problems with your hearing, consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

Also Read:

Healthy Aging: Everything You Need to Know

How to Treat Swimmer’s Ear

Beyond the Ringing in Your Ears: Tinnitus

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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