Hearing loss is a medical condition that makes hearing speech and other sounds difficult. Its sufferers may experience different types of this condition, ranging from mild to moderate and extreme.
Continue reading to learn more about this condition’s symptoms, causes, treatment, and preventive measures.
Hearing loss is a condition that results in a partial or total inability to hear. It may be present at birth or acquired at any time afterward, and it may significantly impact a person’s life, depending on its severity.
Hearing loss can cause suffering to a patient because of the following:
- Experiencing difficulty communicating with others
- Struggling to participate in social activities
- Getting socially isolated
- Feeling constantly depressed and anxious
Diagnosing and treating hearing loss as soon as possible can help to improve a person’s quality of life. If a person thinks they may have hearing loss, they need to visit an audiology clinic like Attune Hearing to see a doctor or an audiologist for a diagnosis.
Hearing Loss: Symptoms
A person who has hearing loss may have trouble following conversations when more than one person speaks simultaneously, understanding speeches in noisy areas, and hearing people clearly via phones. In most cases, they may ask people to speak louder or slower to keep up with discussions.
Other signs and symptoms are the following:
- Feeling like there’s pressure and blockage in an ear
- Becoming tired or stressed after listening to people talk
- Avoiding social situations because of hearing problems
- Having trouble hearing high-pitched sounds, such as children’s voices or birds chirping
- Hearing some ringing in the ears
If a person notices or experiences any of the symptoms listed above, they should seek medical attention immediately.
Hearing Loss: Causes
Various factors cause hearing loss. Knowing the condition’s root cause enables an audiologist or a doctor to prescribe the correct medication or treatment. Some top causes of hearing loss include the following:
- Exposure To Loud Noise: Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) results from constant exposure to loud noise, which impairs cells and membranes in the cochlea. This condition may be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity. Noisy environments like construction sites and loud music may overwork a person’s ear hair cells, causing them to die.
- Genetics: An individual may inherit hearing loss from one or both parents because of gene mutations.
- Tumors: Tumors such as acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma can cause hearing loss. They may develop on the vestibular and hearing or cochlear nerves, which are situated in the inner ear. As a tumor grows, it may exert pressure on the nerves, causing hearing loss.
- Medications: Some medications, particularly ototoxic drugs, can damage the ears. Some of them are aminoglycoside antibiotics, quinine, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, chemotherapy medications, and some over-the-counter pain relievers. If a patient takes these drugs, they should be aware of their side effects and speak to their physician to prevent damage to their ears.
- Aging: As people age, they may gradually lose hearing over time. This results in age-related hearing loss or presbycusis. Most may not quickly notice this condition unless the symptoms become extreme.
- Head Injuries: Injuries on the head may damage inner ear structures, which may lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. If an individual sustains any harm in their head, they should visit their doctor immediately for evaluation and early treatment.
- Ear infections: Ear infections can damage the eardrum or the bones in the middle ear, leading to hearing loss.
If a person living with hearing loss visits their doctor for the first time regarding their hearing, they should be aware if any of the causes listed above may be the culprit.
Hearing Loss: Treatment
Various options are available for the treatment of hearing loss. The treatment is based on the cause and seriousness of the patient’s condition. Some of the top choices include the following:
- Medication: Medications may help treat various types of hearing loss, but they’re rarely prescribed. However, if the underlying cause is an infection, auto-immune disorder, or inflammation, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics, immunosuppressants, and corticosteroids, respectively.
- Hearing aids: Hearing aids are miniature electronic devices that amplify sound and help people with hearing loss to hear better. Hearing aids pick up sound waves, convert them into electrical signals, and then amplify the signals and send them to the ear.
- Assistive listening devices (ALDs): Assistive listening devices (ALDs) help hearing loss patients hear better in various settings. ALDs work by amplifying sound and reducing background noise. There are different types of ALDs, and each type functions differently to allow patients to hear.
- Surgery: Sometimes, a doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment for hearing loss, especially if other treatment options don’t work, the eardrum or bones in the middle ear are damaged, or a tumor exists in the ear or brain.
- Cochlear implants: These tiny electronic devices boost the hearing of people with severe and permanent hearing loss. They don’t restore hearing but may help the patient recognize and understand speech by stimulating the cochlea. These implants require major surgery to be performed.
Patients should discuss these treatment options with their doctor or audiologist and know which one is more suited to their condition. For example, there are a variety of assistive listening devices on the market, and each type has its pros and cons. For a patient to have the best one for them, they need professional medical advice.
Hearing Loss: Prevention
A person may not prevent all types of hearing loss, but they can reduce their risk of developing them. Below are some tips to avoid losing hearing.
- Protect their ears: One of the best ways people can prevent hearing loss is to avoid noisy places and activities. They should minimize the volume of their music, and if they’re in a noisy place, they should wear hearing protection.
- Review their family history: Knowing one’s family history can help them know if they’re at a higher risk of developing hearing loss.
- Go for regular hearing tests: If a person works in a noisy place or suspects hearing loss, they should have their hearing tested for early diagnosis to prevent further damage.
Hearing loss can significantly impact an individual’s personal and professional life. It can affect their ability to communicate with others, which may result in social isolation and frustration. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms can help them identify this condition earlier and obtain medication in its early stages.
Meanwhile, the medical devices market still has a place for newcomers as the demand for hearing aids, ALDs, and cochlear implants is continuing to rise, as hearing loss is the third leading cause of disability.