Hearing Loss: What are the Causes, Types, and Treatments?
Hearing loss is not news in America and is one of the most common health problems that many people are facing today. Currently, one out of 8 people is suffering from hearing loss in America.
Hearing loss does not affect your hearing only but can have far more adverse effects. It can cause depression, cognitive decline, and social isolation.
Fortunately, modern medicine has made great leaps in understanding how hearing works, and therefore, hearing loss treatment is readily available for patients who are in need.
What Are the Causes?
There are many causes of hearing loss, but before we dive into the reasons, it is best if you knew how hearing works.
How Hearing Works
Your ear has three main areas: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. When sound waves reach your ears, they pass through the outer ear then to the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. Then the sound is amplified as it travels to the inner ear by three small bones and the eardrum. Once they reach the inner ear, the vibrations pass through fluid in the cochlea.
In the cochlea, there are tiny hairs that are attached to nerve cells that translate the vibrations into electrical signals. These signals are then transmitted to your brain. The brain then turns the electrical signals into sound.
Here are some of the causes of hearing loss
- Gradual Accumulation of Wax
When there is earwax buildup in the ear canal, it can hinder the conduction of sound waves.
Also known as tympanic membrane perforation, refers to a tear or a hole on the eardrum. This can be caused by abrupt changes in pressure, loud noises, infection, or poking the eardrums with a sharp object.
At times, certain abnormal bone tumors can affect the outer or middle ear that can cause hearing loss. There is a myriad of diseases that can also cause infections like meningitis, mumps, syphilis, some cancers, and hypothyroidism, among others.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Here are some of the risk factors that would cause hearing loss:
- Loud noise be it occupational or recreational noises
- Some medications
- Some diseases
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three major types of hearing loss:
In this type of hearing loss, there is damage or obstruction to your middle or outer ear that inhibits the conduction of sound to your inner ear. This means that the auditory nerve and the inner ear are undamaged. This kind of hearing loss can be either permanent or temporary.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is a common type of hearing loss characterized by damage to your auditory nerve in the inner ear.
There are instances where sensorineural and conductive hearing loss can combine to cause this type of hearing loss. For instance, wax impaction (obstruction to your middle ear) can cause complications that lead to sensorineural hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Different deafness treatments are available that can be categorized according to the type of hearing loss.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment
When your cilia and auditory nerve are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Depending on the damage, cochlear implants or hearing aids can be used to treat sensorineural hearing loss.
Depending on the severity and the nature of the problem, if you have this hearing loss, you can get some or most of your hearing back. Some of the treatments will be dependent on the cause, and by addressing the issue, hearing can be restored.
If its wax it can be removed, antibiotics can be used to treat bacteria, and tumors can be removed surgically.
- Mixed Hearing Loss Treatment
The treatment of mixed hearing loss will be based on the specific conductive and sensorineural hearing loss issues that you are facing. The treatment might either focus on conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. At times treatment can focus on both of them.
Here are some of the dos and don’ts that can help you prevent noise-related hearing loss:
- Limit the time and intensity of exposure to noise. Use earplugs when working in a noisy environment.
- Have your ears tested regularly, primarily if you work in a noisy environment.
- Avoid recreational noises that can damage your ears over time.
Do not wait until your condition gets worse, at South Florida ENT Associates in Jupiter, FL; we have the doctors who can help you reverse hearing loss.