Hearing Loss

Most of the time hearing problems begin gradually, without discomfort or pain. What’s more, family members often learn to adapt to someone’s hearing loss, without even realizing they are doing it.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether hearing loss is an issue for you:

Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
Do I have trouble following conversations with more than two people?
Do I have difficulty hearing what is said unless I’m facing the speaker?
Does it sound like other people are mumbling or slurring their words?
Do I struggle to hear in crowded places like restaurants, theatres and meeting rooms?
Do I struggle to hear during telephone conversations ?
Do I have a hard time hearing women or children?
I prefer the TV or radio volume louder than others?
Do I experience ringing or buzzing in my ears?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, chances are you do suffer from some hearing loss, and the sooner it is addressed, the better it will be for your future hearing.

 Causes Of Hearing Loss

There are numerous causes of hearing loss including ;

Age  This is the most common cause of hearing loss.Hearing loss due to ageing is a natural process called Presbycusis and can not be stopped.

Noise  Hearing loss because of noise is dependent on both the level of noise and the length of exposure, though even short exposure to loud noise can sometimes cause hearing loss.  Working in a noisy environment may be a significant factor in noise induced hearing loss

Ear Infections  Ear infections, sometimes known as Otitis Media, are caused by bacteria, and can cause swelling in the middle ear and the build up of fluid, obstructing the travel of sound.

Injury Head trauma, puncturing of the eardrum, possibly by foreign objects such as cotton swabs, and quick changes in air pressure are forms of injury that can cause hearing loss.

Tinnitus Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in the head that often sounds like it is coming from outside, though the sound can differ in many cases. It can often sound like it is beating in tune with your heart beat, known as Pulsatile Tinnitus. It can be awkward and distressing for those affected, but is not life threatening.

Ototoxic Drugs Ototoxic drugs are often part of the treatment used for serious diseases such as cancer.  The medication can damage hair cells in the inner ear, and can be found in some antibiotics.

Diseases Diseases that cause hearing loss are numerous. They include Meningitis, Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear characterised by vertigo and tinnitus, Otosclerosis, an irregular growth of bones in the ear, and Glue ear, a condition common in young children where liquid builds up behind the eardrum, initially runny, only to become thicker.

Genetics  Genetic conditions that cause hearing loss include Usher’s Syndrome, where people are born hard of hearing and also later develop vision problems, and Teacher Collins Syndrome, which is a defect affecting facial development.

Sudden hearing loss is when your hearing degrades over a very quick period of time and can be caused by many of the above, including tumours and tinnitus. If you develop sudden hearing loss it is recommended you seek out urgent medical assistance

Types Of Hearing Loss

Following a hearing test, the type of hearing loss present can be determined from the results.

There are four types of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss – due to conditions in the outer and/or middle ear. An example of conductive hearing loss is a build up of earwax.

Sensorineural hearing loss – caused by damage to the nerve hair cells in the cochlea, which, when working correctly, send electric signals to the brain which relays sound information.

Mixed – a combination of the two types described above.

Central auditory processing disorder – an umbrella term for conditions which affect the brains ability to process auditory information.

Impact of hearing loss

Social Impact

  • Conversation may become less fluid and so difficult to maintain
  • Your personality may change as you adjust and people can become isolated, avoiding social situations.
  • Difficulty distinguishing sounds, sometimes seeming to others like you are ignoring them.
  • It can cause disharmony in relationships as family and friends become frustrated with the situation
  • Problems getting on at work.

Psychological Impact

  • Feelings of anger.
  • Low confidence, especially in social settings.
  • Frustration.
  • Depression.
  • Difficulty concentrating, such as when communicating.
  • Embarrassment.
  • Short-tempered and less tolerant towards others.