What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is a reduction in hearing sensitivity affecting one or both ears. It can be classified by type and degree.
There are three main types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss: caused by nerve damage to the inner ear. This is often permanent.
- Conductive hearing loss: affects the external or middle ear, making it difficult for sound to move from the outer ear to the eardrum and middle ear. Medicine or surgery can help improve this type of hearing loss.
- Mixed hearing loss: a combination of both of the above.
The different degrees of hearing loss are as follows:
- Mild hearing loss: it can be hard to understand speech in noisy environments.
- Moderate hearing loss: it can be difficult to understand speech without a hearing aid.
- Severe or profound hearing loss: a hearing aid or implant are required to hear.
Symptoms of hearing loss
Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking.
- Difficulty differentiating between high-pitched sounds.
- Deeper or more masculine voices are heard better.
- Sensation of being unsteady or of dizziness.
- Sensation of pressure in the ear.
Other symptoms may include:
What are the causes of hearing loss?
Causes of hearing loss include:
- Age: people aged over 65 years may experience hearing loss.
- Noise: prolonged exposure to loud noises may lead to hearing loss.
- Hereditary factors
- Infections: viruses and bacteria may harm the ear, in addition to untreated childhood otitis.
- Otosclerosis affects the mobility of bones of the middle ear, reducing their ability to transmit vibrations.
- Ototoxic agents: certain medications, alcohol and tobacco may harm the ear.
Can hearing loss be prevented?
Prevention is based on avoiding risk factors as much as possible. However, prevention is not possible for hearing loss of a genetic origin. In general, it is important to avoid exposure to high volumes and to use protective gear if you work in such an environment where noise is the norm.
What is the treatment?
Treatment depends on the degree of hearing loss. The conventional treatment for mild or moderate hearing loss is a hearing aid. In cases of profound hearing loss, a bone-anchored hearing aid may be implanted; this device transmits sound via the cranium to the affected ear.