How and Why Hearing Loss Occurs
Updated: Feb 8
Hearing loss is a widespread problem nowadays. People from all ages are suffering from it and it is immensely affecting their everyday lives. It comes in many different forms and ranges from mild loss to a complete loss of hearing.
There are different types of hearing loss. The most common is the sensorineural hearing loss. This type is usually permanent because of the damage done to the inner ear and its nerves. Another type is the conductive hearing loss. It is usually caused due to earwax buildup or fluid which prevent sound waves from reaching the inner ear. However, surgery and medical treatment usually restores it. Mixed hearing loss is when the patient suffers from both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
In order to diagnose it, audiologists conduct hearing tests and assessments. When identifying the type of hearing loss and its severity, they help with choosing the right hearing solutions. This includes hearing aid machines, which are the most common and effective solution. Today’s hearing aids are very discreet and small they are barely noticeable. They come with different designs and technology used to attain amplification. They improve the health and wellness of the wearer.
Why hearing loss occurs?
Hearing loss is a natural outcome to getting old. Around the age of fifty, more and more people begin to lose their hearing. However, many contributing factors cause hearing loss. Here are some:
Presbycusis (Age-related Hearing Loss)
From its name, it starts as the person becomes older. It is a sensorineural hearing loss. It usually occurs in both ears and affects them both in the same way. This hearing loss isn’t sudden, so the patient may not realize at first that he or she lost their ability to hear properly.
People having it cannot tolerate loud or noisy sounds.
It is common in older people but can happen to all ages. The person hears ringing or sounds like clicking, hissing or buzzing. It might come and go, and it could be loud or soft. It is sometimes the first indication of hearing loss in adults.
Delaying or ignoring doctors’ visits
Ignoring treatment for hearing loss is very risky. Underestimating how bad our hearing becomes can lead to serious consequences. It should be regularly tested and diagnosed.
How hearing loss occurs?
To understand how we lose our hearing, we need to understand how it usually happens. The hair cells are what allow our brain to detect sounds. Hearing loss starts when cells and membranes of the inner ear are damaged. Listening to loud sounds for a long period of time can overburden and tear the hair cells found in the ear, causing them to die with time. Continuous exposure to loud noises causes hearing loss to become worse. Electrical signals will not be transmitted efficiently.
Once the hair cells are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Auditory nerves that carry the information about the different sounds we hear to the brain are also damaged.
Exposure to loud noises
Loud noise is the major cause of hearing loss. This exposure can be sudden or short-termed, like attending a loud concert or being close to gunshot or explosions.
Other times, it could be long-lasting such as certain professions. Farming, construction, military, and music field are all examples where people become highly at risk of suffering from hearing loss with time.
Punctured ear drum
It means there is a hole in the eardrum or a tear in the thin membrane separating the outer ear from the inner ear. The eardrum can be damaged due to pressure, infection, or putting certain objects in the ear such as cotton swabs.
Health conditions and heredity
As people start growing old, their health problems increase. Diabetes and high blood pressure affect hearing loss. Heart conditions, strokes, infections, viruses and bacteria, brain injuries or even tumors are all factors that might affect our hearing.
Heredity can also be a reason for hearing loss. It might not show from birth, but some forms might show up gradually in life.
Some medicines we take might damage our inner ear. These medications are referred to as ototoxic ones. They are usually used to treat cancer, serious infections and heart diseases. You should discuss with your doctor the medicines you are taking. If they have side effects on the ears, they can substitute them with different ones.
The most important thing you need to do when you suspect hearing loss is to seek professional help. You should not feel embarrassed! Your doctor will diagnose the problem and either treat you or refer you to other professional experts like audiologists who can identify the hearing loss and give you the best hearing solutions available.