Gradual to Sudden
Hearing loss can be caused by the aging process, exposure to loud or constant noise, wax build-up, injuries or illnesses, heredity, birth defects, middle ear infections, tumors or certain medications. Many people develop hearing problems slowly, without being aware that their hearing is impaired. Others suffer a rapid, dramatic loss of hearing and are acutely aware that they need medical attention.
Why You Should Get Help for Hearing Loss Immediately
In adults, hearing impairment can affect social interaction, create emotional problems and jeopardize career progress. A study by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) found that individuals with untreated hearing loss are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and are less likely to participate in social activities. Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression, Anxiety, Social Isolation in Seniors (study released May 26, 1999, National Council on the Aging) www.ncoa.org
In children, hearing problems can cause speech and language delays, delay learning and stand as an obstacle to relationships that are essential to a happy, healthy lifestyles.
- Frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
- Hear people mumble when they speak?
- Have a feeling of fullness in the ears?
- Experience “Ringing” in the ears?
- Have difficulty understanding speech when background noise is present?
- Turn the television up louder than normal?
- Have difficulty understanding on the telephone?
- Have difficulty knowing where sounds are coming from?
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is generally categorized by location, as well as by severity and age of onset. There are three main types of loss: conductive, sensorineural, and a combination of both, known as mixed.
Conductive hearing loss results from sound waves being conducted through the outer and/or middle ear inefficiently. Sound waves are blocked or muffled before they can reach the inner ear, which is still functioning properly. Conductive hearing loss can frequently be treated with medication or surgery.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the nerve pathways that transmit sound information to the brain. The normal aging process and exposure to loud noise can lead to sensorineural loss. Generally, sensorineural loss cannot be reversed and is not treatable with surgery or medication – but it can be significantly improved through the use of HEARING AIDS.
Noise-Induced Loss is generally considered a form of or a sub-category of sensorineural loss. This is one of the most common types of loss, and, fortunately, it is also the most preventable. Onset is gradual, painless, and frequently undetectable until significant hearing loss has occurred.
Mixed hearing loss is the combination of conductive and sensorineural, which can involve damage in the outer, middle, and inner ear simultaneously.