Introduction to Hearing Loss – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
The sense of hearing is an important part of life. If nothing else, it serves as a safety valve against danger. If you hear car tires screeching, your hearing will tell you which direction it’s coming from. You suddenly look in the direction of the noise and see the car hurtling towards you, allowing you to quickly pull away. If you have hearing loss, you may not hear the tires at all, which could hurt you or worse.
Hearing loss is the result of damage to the auditory system of the ear. The ear is made up of external, middle and internal auricular cavities. The cavities of the ear contain the structures that help us hear. Hearing loss occurs when these structures are damaged by disease, trauma or infections.
Four types of hearing include conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and central hearing loss. Hearing loss can be confused with other conditions such as depression or dementia, and usually occurs in older people. As we age, hearing loss is common. This is due to the destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea. These hair cells are vital for hearing. Once destroyed, they cannot be replaced, making hearing loss permanent.
Signs and Symptoms:
Constant need to repeat the conversation
Extreme volume on TV, radio or other electronic device
Withdrawal from social activities
Unable to understand speech
No sound response
In adults, hearing loss may be gradual and not noticeable at first. Often it is recognized only when the damage to the auditory system is significant. Other times it is not picked up until a visit to the doctor is for other reasons. Your doctor will then need to determine the type of hearing loss you have, the degree and location in the auditory system where it occurred. In addition, hearing loss in adults can be attributed to aging (presbycusis), tumors, viral infections such as influenza or herpes.
In children, hearing loss may be due to bacterial or viral insults to their systems. Although it can occur at any age, it is the most common cause of hearing loss in children: mumps, rubella, meningitis and multiple sclerosis.
Diagnosis and treatment:
A thorough medical examination and diagnostic tests are used to determine if there is any hearing loss.
Treatment for hearing loss includes surgery, hearing aids, and medication, and can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment. It is important to protect your hearing to avoid loss. If you work in noisy places, such as a factory where loud machinery operates, wearing hearing protection can save your hearing.