Hearing Loss

Introduction to Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide and primarily consists of a partial or complete inability to hear sound in one or both ears. Hearing loss can be mild to severe and temporary or permanent while affecting people of all ages, from infants to older adults. There are many types of hearing loss, with many causes that can often be difficult to isolate. Some people are born with hearing loss, while others develop it later. The symptoms of hearing loss can also differ, depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Man cupping his ear while trying to hear

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear due to physical anomalies. It is usually caused by a blockage in the outer or middle ear, such as earwax buildup or an ear infection. Conductive hearing loss is considered the most curable type and can usually be treated with medication or surgery.
Elderly man in pain as he holds his ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the nerves that transmit sound to the brain. It is the most common type of hearing loss and is usually caused by aging, exposure to loud noise, or genetics. Although sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be cured, it can, fortunately, be effectively managed or mitigated using hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Senior asian woman can hear better with hearing aids

Mixed Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is less prevalent and combines both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. It is often caused by a combination of factors that occur simultaneously, such as a perforated eardrum and damage to hair cells within the cochlea of the inner ear.
View from the crowd at a rock show

Causes of Hearing Loss

As mentioned earlier, the cause of hearing loss can vary. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Exposure to loud noise: This can damage the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Aging: As we age, the hair cells in our inner ear that transmit sound signals to the brain naturally break down or weaken.
  • Genetics: Some types of hearing loss are hereditary and can be passed down by parents.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can cause hearing loss or damage the inner ear.
  • Infections: Ear infections can cause conductive hearing loss from fluid buildup.
  • Trauma: Head injuries can damage the inner ear and cause hearing loss.

Seeing a hearing specialist for a hearing test is essential if you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms.

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Audiologist examining patient ear

Treatment Options for Hearing Loss

Many treatment options are available for hearing loss, with their efficacy highly dependent on the type and severity of the condition. Some common treatment options include:

  • Hearing aids: These are small electronic devices that amplify sound and can be worn in or behind the ear. They are very effective in treating mild to severe levels of hearing impairment.
  • Cochlear implants: Cochlear implants are surgically implanted devices that bypass the damaged parts of the inner ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. They treat the most profound levels of hearing loss and complete deafness. 
  • Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs): These are hearing aids that are attached to a small titanium screw implanted in the skull bone behind the ear.
  • Assistive listening devices (ALDs): ALDs are devices other than hearing aids that can help you hear and communicate better in any number of situations, such as in noisy environments or while talking on the telephone.
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Worker wearing ear protection

Preventing Hearing Loss

While some types of hearing loss cannot be prevented - such as congenital hearing loss, which is present at birth - there are steps you can take to protect your hearing and reduce your risk of developing other types of hearing impairment. Some things you can do to minimize your risk include:

  • Wearing earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to loud noise, such as at concerts or using power tools.
  • Turning down the volume on your headphones or earbuds.
  • Taking regular breaks from noisy activities.
  • Getting your hearing tested regularly.
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Grandfather helping grandson to read a book

Coping with Hearing Loss

If you are experiencing hearing loss, it can be a challenging condition to cope with in daily life. Here are some tips to help you communicate and manage your hearing loss:

  • Face the person you are speaking with and make eye contact.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Use visual cues, such as gestures and facial expressions, to help convey your message.
  • Use closed captioning or subtitles when watching television or movies.
  • Invest in assistive listening devices, such as a personal FM system or a captioned telephone.

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Start Your Journey to Better Hearing!

Start your journey to better hearing today with New Life Hearing and experience the world in a whole new way. Schedule a consultation with our experienced hearing specialists and take the first step towards improved hearing and a more fulfilling life. Don't wait any longer, let us help you rediscover the sounds you've been missing.
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