There are many causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss in adults can be inherited from your parents, acquired from illness and medicine, brought on by exposure to loud noise, be caused by tumors, head injury, or the aging process.
This loss may occur by itself or with tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Exposure to noise is one of the leading factors in hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss may happen slowly over time or suddenly. Being exposed to everyday noises, such as listening to very loud music, being in a noisy work environment, or using a lawn mower, can lead to hearing loss over many years. More than 500 million people worldwide experience some degree of hearing loss with more and more people being affected at younger ages.
In age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, changes in the inner ear that happen as you get older cause a slow but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe, and it is always permanent. In older people, a hearing loss is often confused with, or complicates, such conditions as dementia.
What causes hearing loss?
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How can I tell if I have a hearing loss?
Hearing loss can occur gradually, over a period of time. Other people sometimes suspect we have a hearing loss before we do ourselves. Many family members are the first to be aware that a loved one has a hearing loss, as they have had to speak louder or repeat themselves to communicate. If you answer yes to some of the following questions, you might have a hearing loss:
Often ask people to repeat what they say?
Have trouble hearing in groups?Think that other people "mumble" ?
Difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise, like in a restaurant?
Turn up the volume on the TV or car radio?
Fail to hear someone talking from behind you?
Have difficulty hearing on the phone?
Have trouble hearing your alarm clock?
Have difficulty hearing at the movies?
Dread going to noisy parties and restaurants?
Difficulty hearing in meeting or public speaking events?
Why do I hear well in some situations, but not others?
How we hear depends on many things such as the pitch of the speaker’s voice, the level of background noise, the acoustics of the room, and how far you are from the speaker. Understanding a conversation is further impacted by whether we are stressed or tired, the ability or inability to see the speaker’s face when they are talking, the lighting in the room and the seating arrangement. All of these can impact how well we hear.
Types of Hearing Loss
Not all hearing losses are the same. The type of hearing loss you have will determine what treatment plan is the most appropriate for you.
Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the most common type of hearing loss. This is the result of damage to the hair cells in your inner ear, or cochlea. It is often the result of exposure to loud sounds, the aging process, or disease.
Conductive hearing loss: This type of loss is often the result of an obstruction in the outer or middle ear. Common causes of conductive hearing loss are wax build up or middle ear fluid from a possible ear infection. Most conductive loss can be treated medically.
Mixed hearing loss: This type of loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
When To See An Audiologist
Hearing loss occurs at all ages and for a variety of reasons. Hearing loss can be congenital (present at birth), it can develop suddenly due to certain medical conditions or medications, or it can occur over a period of time due to natural aging. You should see an Audiologist to monitor your hearing if you have a history of:
Exposure to loud noises
Dizziness or vertigo
Tinnitus (ringing or noises in your ear)
Ear pressure or pain
Ruptured ear drum
Ototoxic medications (medications that damage hearing)
Inner ear disease or ear infections
Genetic hearing impairment
You should seek a hearing evaluation from an Audiologist if you:
Often ask people to repeat themselves
Believe most people mumble
Have difficulty hearing over the telephone
Have problems hearing or understanding speech of children or women
Misunderstand others or respond inappropriately
Miss sounds like the telephone or doorbell ringing
Are confused about where sounds are coming from
Avoid activities because of problems with hearing and understanding speech
Are having trouble following conversations in noisy backgrounds or when two or more people speak at once