Hearing is a critical sense that we use to communicate, interact with our environment, and maintain our safety. Unfortunately, some people can’t hear as clearly as the rest of us. This can have a significant impact on their daily lives.
Hearing loss is a condition that affects 37.5 million Americans. Not only is it an inconvenience, but a serious condition as well, where it can escalate and negatively impact your life. Are you thinking about getting yourself tested but are confused about hearing loss and why it happens?
If you feel like you’re missing out and struggling to hear very well, then this guide’s for you! Keep reading to understand why this is such a common condition and what the major causes and symptoms are.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss, or congenital deafness, is an impairment of the ability to hear. It can be partial or total, affecting one or both ears. It can occur at any age, birth being the most common time for diagnosis of hearing loss.
In some cases, hearing loss can be a permanent condition, while in others, it can be temporary. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to identify the cause of your hearing loss so that you can work on remedying the issue and restoring your hearing quality.
There are a variety of hearing tests available at Beltone that can help medical professionals identify the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing and recommend the treatment that is most suitable for you.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three main types of hearing loss. Read on to learn more:
Conductive Hearing Loss
This hearing loss occurs when sound waves are unable to pass through the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing is caused by an obstruction in the middle ear that prevents sound waves from reaching the inner ear. This can be caused by many factors, such as fluid buildup, earwax buildup, or a damaged eardrum.
Symptoms include muffled hearing, decreased sound reception, and difficulty understanding speech. Treatment typically involves medications, hearing aids, or care from a specialist.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
People who suffer from SNHL often experience a decline in their ability to hear certain tones and differentiate between different speech sounds. It can also cause a reduced awareness of their own voice and difficulty in distinguishing their own speech from that of others. Treatment for SNHL can often help to restore some level of hearing, although it is impossible to fully restore lost hearing.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a condition in which there is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss that makes it difficult to hear. This can be a result of certain illnesses or genetic conditions.
For people with mixed hearing loss, understanding speech in noisy environments or following conversations can be difficult. There can also be challenges in detecting certain tones or hearing soft noises. For example, a person with mixed hearing loss may have difficulty understanding someone in a crowded restaurant or recognizing the tones of music.
Causes of Hearing Loss
It is essential to learn the different causes of hearing loss to further analyze your situation in a smart way. There are several causes of hearing loss, including:
Hearing loss as a result of one’s age can occur as people age, often caused by natural wear and tear on the ears. Older people can have difficulty hearing in noisy environments, including being unable to distinguish between background noise and spoken words.
Exposure to Loud Noise
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most common forms of hearing loss, and it can be caused by exposure to loud noise. It can be anything from rock concerts to chainsaws to Bluetooth headphones. When exposed to loud noise for prolonged periods, the delicate cells in our inner ear become damaged, resulting in hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a condition that can be caused by genetics. It can be caused by a person inheriting a faulty gene from their parents or other close family members. People who inherit this faulty gene may experience some form of hearing loss. This hearing loss can vary from mild to severe and can be present at birth or develop later in life.
Hearing loss due to illnesses is a common cause of not being able to hear very well. It can be caused by numerous illnesses, such as an ear infection, meningitis, mumps, measles, or even the flu.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis can damage both the structure and function of the ear and can cause hearing loss. Other illnesses that can cause hearing loss include certain types of tumors and autoimmune diseases.
Hearing Loss From Medications
Hearing loss associated with medications can have a variety of causes that range in severity, including ototoxicity, reversible or irreversible effects of medications, reduced effectiveness or side effects, or a combination of these.
Common medications known to cause hearing loss include chemotherapy medications, some antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, sedatives, and antimalarials. Ototoxic medications can damage the ear and cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Preventing Hearing Loss
Preventing hearing loss can be a difficult task. Many people experience hearing loss due to a variety of causes, including environmental noise, age, trauma to the ears, and other medical conditions. If you cannot hear very well, understanding the causes of hearing loss is essential.
Identifying the source of your hearing impairment can help you discover preventative steps you can take to lessen the risk of further damage. These might include hearing protection if you find yourself in a noisy environment and avoiding medications that could damage hearing.
Be aware of when to get your hearing checked, avoid contact sports, and take care of your health. With preventative steps in mind, you can focus on repairing and maintaining your hearing as much as possible.
Can’t Hear: Understanding the Impact and Importance of Addressing Hearing Loss
Overall, it is important to realize that hearing loss can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life. If you notice any changes in your hearing or you can’t hear, make sure to consult a doctor. Doing so may help to prevent further hearing loss and may even lead to the discovery of potential medical treatments.
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