Hearing loss can be a debilitating problem for some people and, at the very least, inconvenient for others. Approximately 10% of the population suffers from hearing loss and many infants are born deaf every year. Sometimes, though, your lifestyle can lead to a loss of hearing over several years or with an event causing sudden hearing loss. For this reason, protecting your ears with certain measures can help you retain a maximum sense of hearing for your lifetime.
There are three common types of hearing loss, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) web site. The first is called conductive hearing loss, where muffled or faint sounds can’t be heard because of a blockage in the outer ear canal. This can occur from wax build-up or even damage to the small bones inside the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss can usually be corrected with surgery. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when damage is done to the cochlea within the inner ear or to the nerve endings leading to the brain. This type of damage can occur because of an illness, disease, injury, or even medications. This type of hearing loss can’t be corrected with a surgical procedure. A mixed loss of hearing occurs when there is damage to both the inner and outer ear.
The ASHA lists several causes for hearing loss in adults. Disease and infection can lead to a loss of hearing, as well as certain medications and traumas to the head region. People commonly associate sudden hearing loss with exposure to loud noises at work or from listening to music, but this is not always the case. Meniere’s disease involves the membrane of the inner ear, and characterized by a ringing in the ear, deafness, or vertigo. Otosclerosis is a disease that affects the middle part of the ear and disrupts the movement of a tiny bone, called a stapes. Sudden hearing loss can occur when you are exposed to some sort of trauma, such as a ruptured eardrum or even a sudden change in air pressure. Noise levels can also lead to a loss of hearing if you are exposed to high levels over a prolonged time.
Hearing loss in children is an entirely different situation. One of the most common types of hearing loss in children involves a build-up of fluid that leads to inflammation in the ear. Commonly referred to as Otis media, this is generally a temporary condition that can be fixed. On the other hand, congenital hearing loss in children is a condition that happens at birth and it’s often genetic. Several factors can contribute to congenital hearing loss, including maternal diabetes or a premature birth.
Even though many people suffer from hearing loss, there are ways to avoid it. The first step is to visit a hearing professional, such as an audiologist, for diagnosis. Whether a case of sudden loss of hearing has happened or there has been a gradual decline in hearing over a long period of time, an audiologist can suggest hearing aids or other remedies to help you deal with the problem. Even children who suffer from hearing loss can benefit from these instruments. Be sure to take care of your hearing before it’s too late.