Our ears have these two main functions; allowing us to both hear and maintain our balance. However, throughout the duration of a lifetime, the hearing function of our ears become worn out and less effective. In fact, one of three adults over the age of 65 has a hearing loss and half of seniors over the age of 75 have a hearing loss. Such loss is commonly due to over-exposure to noise, heredity or both.
The signs of hearing loss is normally relatively easy to detect:
1) If you notice everyone sounds muffled.
2) It is difficult to understand words.
3) You request others to speak more slowly, clearly or loudly.
4) Often need to turn up the volume on your TV or radio.
If you suffer from any of the above, combined with a desire to withdraw from conversations or avoid social settings, it is highly likely that you are suffering from a loss of hearing.
Most hearing loss results from damage to the cochlea ( a coiled structure in the inner ear responsible for hearing ). This loss is usually a result of prolonged exposure to loud noises of 85 decibel or higher. A decibel is the unit used to measure degrees of loudness and is often abbreviated to dB.
Other common causes of hearing are:
1) Ear infections.
2) Abnormal bone growths.
3) Tumors of the outer or middle ear.
4) Ruptured ear drums.
Other non-age related causes for deafness include Auditory Neuropathy, Meniere’s Disease, Noise Ostosclerosis and Usher’s Syndrome.
There are three basic types of hearing loss:
Type # 1 – Conductive Hearing Loss
This occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently to the middle ear, which may be caused by fluid, earwax, infection, foreign matter or malformation of the middle or outer ear.
Type # 2 – Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This condition occurs when there is damage to the inner ear ( cochlea ) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Disease, birth injury, drugs or genetic syndromes can also be causes of Sensorineural hearing loss. Additional causes may include noise exposure, viruses, head trauma, aging and tumors.
A person suffering from this type of hearing loss may exhibit a lack of speech comprehension.
Type # 3 – Mixed Hearing Loss
Sometimes a person may suffer from conductive hearing loss combined with a Sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is known as mixed hearing loss.
A person can have a loss of hearing in one ear or in both ears. The degree of the severity of hearing loss in each ear may be equal or disparate. The loss of hearing can either occur suddenly or over a long period of time.
Some people suffer from hearing losses that fluctuate and their condition may worsen or improve erratically. This is usually caused by an ear infection causing conductive hearing loss.
If you suspect you have a hearing problem, you should consult your health specialist to get a professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your condition.