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  • Writer's pictureWidex Emirates Hearing Care

Causes and Symptoms of Severe Hearing Loss


severe hearing loss
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For millions of people, the world seems to be a very quiet place. Hearing loss happens in many ways and to people of all ages. When you are affected by severe hearing loss, you are able to hear very loud sounds only. Severe hearing loss turns conversations into whispers.

Whenever you feel you have trouble hearing, you should seek a doctor. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the more you become involved in the world and your surroundings. Go ahead and have a look on the types of hearing loss, its causes, symptoms and effects.

What is severe hearing loss?

Severe hearing loss denotes you can hear sounds, but very poorly. You cannot hear the other person talking, even if they are using their normal voice. You are able to hear very loud sounds only. For example, car horns won’t startle you in the same way as a normal person would. The sound of a baby near you will go unnoticed. Usually, patients are able to hear sounds above ranging from 70 to 95 dB. You will face the challenge of coping in noisy environments, hearing the clarity and cleanliness of sounds, and having a normal conversation on the phone.


Without noticing, you start doing extra efforts to cope with your new situation. Some of which are:

  • Depending a lot on visual clues such as lip reading or sign language

  • Searching for a quiet place or corner to reduce the loud sounds

  • Staying near the speaker (s) in order to hear what others are saying

Best hearing aids for severe hearing loss. Otherwise, the surgical implantation, the cochlear implants, is becoming the choice and solution for people with severe hearing loss.


What are the symptoms of severe hearing loss?


symptoms of severe hearing loss
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Losing hearing can happen suddenly or over a certain period of time. You will notice yourself having a hard time interacting with other people, simply because you cannot hear them. Some signs include:

  • Conversations become fuzzy and unclear in groups or noisy places

  • Sounds become muffled and start fading gradually.

  • Having difficulty hearing people that are behind them

  • Assuming people are mumbling when speaking

  • Having problems talking and hearing on the phone

  • Listening to the radio and television at a very loud volume

  • Having difficulty detecting where the sounds are coming from

  • Experiencing buzzing or ringing in the ears- tinnitus

What are the symptoms of severe hearing loss in children?

When your child has problems hearing, you will most probably notice it from the way they behave. Many children will find difficulty understanding speech, even when they are wearing their hearing aids. Some signs are:

  • Having hard time learning how to speak

  • Speaking at a later stage than other children their age

  • Not paying attention when people call them

  • Not paying attention to all sounds

  • Poor performance at school

  • Babies not being startled with loud noises

  • Not turning their head to the source of sound

Even with hearing aids, the child will face problems. Hearing aids can make the sounds they hear louder, but they cannot restore their normal hearing. The level of concentration required is very difficult for them to maintain over a long period of time.

Some children are fitted with cochlear implants. They are able to understand speech through the implant.

Generally, children suffering from delay in learning to talk or from talking loudly indicate that there might be some hearing impairment.


What are the causes of severe hearing loss?

Babies have a risk of being born with severe hearing loss. Children and adults might get it at any point in their lives. It doesn’t happen immediately every time. It might begin and increase gradually with time. It can happen over the course of years or all of a sudden without early signals. It can happen in both ears or one only. It can be long-lasting or brief.


Understanding how severe hearing loss happens requires understanding how the ear works. Noise passes through the air as sound waves. They vibrate your eardrum and let the three tiny bones inside the ear move. This leads to waves in the fluid filling the inner ear. These waves bend tiny hair cells attached to the nerves. They distribute electrical signals to the principal hearing nerve, the auditory nerve, leading to the brain.

As you get older, you might lose your hearing because of many reasons:

  • Loud noises

Getting exposed to loud noises over long periods of time.

  • Diseases

Different conditions can put nerves responsible for hearing at risk. Such are ear:

  1. Viral and bacterial infections

  2. brain tumors

  • Clogs

Impacted ear wax- cerumen impaction

Earwax or objects stuck inside the ear canal can cause you to stop hearing well. Trying to remove them wrong can also damage the ears.

  • Injuries

  1. Head trauma damages the inside of the ears when it happens.

  2. Some sports, like skydiving or scuba diving can also harm the ears.

  • Medications and chronic diseases

Ototoxic drugs, including some that can treat cancer, heart diseases, and serious infections can cause hearing loss and damage our ears. They include:

  1. NSAIDs, high doses of aspirin

  2. Chemotherapy drugs

  • Age-related sensorineural degeneration

  • Nutritional deficiencies

What are the causes of severe hearing loss in children and babies?

causes of severe hearing loss
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Our DNA many genes that aid in building the structures responsible for hearing. Any problem with them might cause a baby to be born without the sense of hearing. Some causes include:

  • Many babies are born with severe hearing loss. It is because of a faulty gene.

  • Babies lose their hearing sometimes due to problems in the womb. Pregnant mothers who are under certain medications may have a risk of giving birth to a baby suffering from severe hearing loss. Such medications include cancer drug thalidomide or drugs for tuberculosis.

What are the effects of severe hearing loss?

People who experience severe hearing loss usually withdraw from their social lives. They become embarrassed to ask friends and family to repeat what they are saying over and over again.


What to consider with severe hearing loss?

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are only part of the plan. There are some strategies to consider with patients having severe hearing loss. They involve communication tactics, assistive learning devices and lip-reading.

  • Use closed questions rather than open ones. For example, use “Did you say fourteen? One, four?” instead of “What number was that?”

  • Visual information received from looking at the faces of people is very vital during conversations.

  • Do not exaggerate lip patterns when people speak to people with severe hearing loss. They should not shout. Instead, they should be brief and straight to the point in what they want to say.

  • Using technology options is very helpful:

  1. Using subtitles for cinema, theater shows and TV

  2. Text messages, instant messages and emails can aid in communication

  3. Use of text phones, allowing for two-way conversation by text

  4. Using flashing and vibrating technologies

  5. Using app technology

What are some questions to ask your doctor?

If you have severe hearing loss, you have many different questions you can ask and discuss with your doctor, like:

  • What caused the hearing loss?

  • Will it ever go away?

  • Do I need to see other hearing specialists?

  • What kinds of treatments are available?

  • Will these treatments cure the hearing loss?

In the case of children:

  • What are the needs of my child at school in order to adapt to his case?

  • What you we do to help at home?

  • How can they learn how to speak?

  • Is it hereditary? Will my other children also have hearing loss?

  • Will the hearing loss continue to get worse over time?

Hearing loss is different for each person. The key is to coordinate with your health team, your audiologist specifically, to find methods and treatments for it. Being aware of the symptoms and causes allows you to be proactive in taking steps towards improving your ability to hear.

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