Hearing loss can affect anyone, and at any age. It affects different people to varying degrees and for different reasons, and can be triggered by any number of environmental and biological factors.
Because hearing loss typically develops gradually, you may not notice the loss of subtle everyday sounds such as a ticking clock or a rustling newspaper. Before you realize it, you are missing sounds critical to effective communication. Living with untreated loss means difficulties in conversations with loved ones, at social gatherings, and work settings. Untreated, loss makes it challenging to keep up with everyday life. Treatment can lead to a better quality of life by improving personal relationships, reducing anger and frustration, and providing better control of one’s life.
Hearing Loss Facts
Types of Hearing Loss Explained
Hearing loss is generally categorized by location—that is, what part of the ear is damaged—as well as by severity and age of onset. There are three main types of loss: conductive, sensorineural, and a combination of both, known as mixed hearing loss.
1) CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS
Conductive hearing loss results from sound waves being conducted through the outer and/or middle ear inefficiently. Sound waves are blocked or muffled before they can reach the inner ear, which is still functioning properly. Conductive hearing loss can sometimes be treated medically.
2) SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS
The most common type of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the nerve pathways that transmit sound vibrations to the brain. Sensorineural loss cannot be reversed and is not treatable through surgery or medication, but it can be significantly improved through the use of hearing aids.
3) MIXED HEARING LOSS
Mixed hearing loss is the combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which can involve damage in the outer, middle, and inner ear simultaneously. This will typically require further testing to rule out treatable conditions causing the hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
1) NOISE EXPOSURE
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss typically results from exposure to loud noises over a long period of time, although it can rarely be caused be one traumatic acoustic event. Noise exposure leading to hearing loss is usually caused by industrial settings, loud concerts and music, military service, hunting or recreational shooting.
2) PRESBYCUSIS (AGING)
The normal aging process and exposure to loud noise can lead to sensorineural loss. This is the most common type of hearing impairment that we see, as one of out every three adults over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss.
3) OTOTOXIC MEDICATIONS
Many of the medications that we take for other conditions may contribute to sensorineural hearing loss and the need for hearing aids. According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, there are over 200 Ototoxic drugs on the market today. Certain antibiotics and cancer drugs are among the medications on the list.
4) EAR INFECTIONS
Unfortunately, ear infections can also lead to hearing loss. This typically happens when the infection goes untreated for some time, although in rare cases it can happen suddenly.