It is difficult to deal with hearing loss, which is why people tend to shy away and deny their condition. However, if you feel that you or a loved one suffers from hearing loss, you should not ignore it but address it - you have too much to enjoy to let hearing loss set you back. Read on to find out about the most common hearing loss symptoms.
The impact of unaddressed hearing loss
When unaddressed, hearing loss impacts many aspects of life at the individual level, including one’s ability to communicate with others. Exclusion from communication may have a substantial influence on daily living, leading to emotions of loneliness, isolation, and frustration, especially in older adults with hearing loss. Unaddressed hearing loss can also lead to difficulties in employment.
How can hearing loss occur?
According to WHO, by 2050, nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss, and at least 700 million will require hearing rehabilitation. Over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Causes of hearing loss include:
Damage to the inner ear
The hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea that convey sound impulses to the brain may wear out with age and exposure to loud noise. When these hairs or nerve cells are injured or destroyed, electrical impulses are not carried out as efficiently, resulting in hearing loss. Higher-pitched tones may become muffled to you, and it may become difficult for you to pick out words against background noise.
Gradual build-up of ear wax
Ear wax blockage, also known as cerumen impaction, can occur when your body creates an excessive amount of earwax or when existing wax is pushed too deep into your ear canal. You may be unable to hear out of the damaged ear in some circumstances. However, this usually only lasts till the extra wax is removed. Earwax removal can help restore your hearing.
Perforated eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation)
An eardrum rupture (tympanic membrane perforation) is a hole or tear in the thin tissue that connects the ear canal to the middle ear (eardrum). Hearing loss can occur as a result of an eardrum rupture. It may also render the middle ear more susceptible to infection.
Types of hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is typically brief, and it can be corrected with medication, a brief procedure, or, in rare cases, surgery. This form of hearing loss happens in the outer or middle ear when sound waves cannot travel all the way to the inner ear. Earwax or a foreign item in the ear canal may impede sound; the middle ear space may be obstructed by fluid, illness, or a bone anomaly; or the eardrum may have been injured.
This type of hearing loss occurs when tiny hairs in the cochlea are missing or damaged. It can be caused by aging, loud noise exposure, injury, sickness, some medicines, or a hereditary disorder. This form of hearing loss is normally not curable medically or surgically; nevertheless, many persons with this type of hearing loss find that hearing aids can be helpful.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss can develop abruptly or gradually over a few days. It is critical to consult an otologist (a doctor who specialises in ear problems) right away. A delay in treating this ailment (two or more weeks after the symptoms first appear) reduces the likelihood that drugs may assist.
A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, this type of hearing loss is usually treated with hearing aids alone, and occasionally in conjunction with medication, a short procedure or with surgery.
Caused by strokes and central nervous system diseases, this type of hearing loss usually involves a therapy called auditory rehabilitation. People with acquired deafness can occasionally be treated with a surgically implanted prosthesis called a cochlear implant, which directly stimulates the spiral ganglion. When compared to sensorineural or conductive hearing loss, central hearing loss is exceedingly infrequent.
What are some common hearing loss symptoms?
Your Hearing Aid Audiologist will inquire about your hearing loss symptoms and perform a physical examination. They look for evidence of infection or other problems that might result in hearing loss.
Do any of these hearing loss symptoms apply to you?
- You have trouble understanding what people are saying.
- You hearing is muffled.
- You often ask people to repeat themselves.
- You have trouble understanding conversations when there’s background noise.
- You have ringing in your ears – also known as tinnitus
- You avoid social situations because you have trouble following the conversation.
- You turn up the TV and radio to levels that others say are loud.
You might have hearing loss if you responded yes to more than one of the questions above. Don't let communication issues prohibit you from living your life to the fullest. A healthcare practitioner will perform an audiogram to assess hearing loss. This hearing test indicates what types of noises you are capable of hearing.
Symptoms of hearing loss in children
Hearing loss in children is frequently discovered immediately after delivery with a newborn baby hearing screening. If hearing loss is not detected at birth, some parents may be able to notice it in their child.
Symptoms of hearing loss in children include:
- A delay in speech and language development.
- Child does not startle when a loud sound is present.
- Child cannot tell where the sound is coming from.
How is hearing loss managed?
The way hearing loss is treated depends on the cause and how severe it is. In cases of sensorineural hearing loss, there are several options that may help to improve a person’s ability to hear and communicate. The most common is hearing aids. Hearing aids will improve your ability to socialise and help you enjoy your daily activities. There are many different types of hearing aids.
Can you prevent hearing loss
The following steps can help you prevent noise-induced hearing loss and avoid worsening of age-related hearing loss:
- Protecting your ears by limiting the duration and intensity of your exposure to noise is the best protection. Turning down the music volume is helpful too.
- Get your hearing checked. If you work in a noisy area, you should consider getting frequent hearing examinations.
- Wearing hearing protectors or taking breaks from the noise can protect your ears.
- Remove earwax as a build-up of wax can muffle sounds.
Taking care of your hearing
If you're struggling to hear, a good place to start is by consulting with an Audiologist who can help determine whether you need a hearing aid after a free hearing test. Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the different types of hearing aids. If you’re still struggling to decide what kind might be best for your needs, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts, who can help guide you through this process.