How Hearing Loss Happens
Deafness can be described as hearing loss or hearing impairment, whereby a person is unable to hear sounds. Deafness could be partial, while in some other people, it could be permanent and absolute.
Some symptoms of deafness are mild and painless. People with mild deafness may find it difficult to hear and understand speeches, especially when there is noise in the background. While those with moderate ear impairment would need a hearing aid for sound improvement. Deafness can be so severe that its victims would hear no sound at all and would always rely on lip-reading to be able to understand what people say to them. Sometimes, they find sign language more convenient and easier than lip reading.
According to research, hearing loss occurs as you age. This is a common process that comes with aging. Adults between ages 65 and 75 will, to some extent, lose some of their hearing abilities.
Hearing loss can be grouped into three, each with a specific area of the ear it affects. The following are the groups of common hearing loss;
- Sensorineural; this is the kind of hearing loss that affects the inner ear.
- Conductive; this involves the middle or outer ear.
- Mixed; this is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive. It affects the inner, middle, and outer ear. This may be the one that leads to total and permanent hearing loss.
Factors like aging and constant exposure to noise and too loud sounds can increase your chances of having hearing loss. Some mild causes of partial deafness include excess ear wax. Excess ear wax can reduce the degree to which you hear sounds, and clearing it off returns your hearing to normal.
How Hearing Works
When sound enters the ear, it moves to the auditory canal and hits the eardrum, and makes a form of vibration. The vibrations created in the eardrum move to the middle ear and get amplified there. Some hair-like cells pick these vibrations up and move as a result of the vibrations. Then, the amplified vibration is sent to the brain through the auditory nerve, where processing and interpretation of sound data are made.
Deafness Versus Hearing Loss
Both deafness and hearing loss are hearing impairments, with the former being more severe than the latter. The following are degrees of hearing impairment;
- Hearing loss; here, there is a slight reduction in the sharpness of sounds you hear compared to how other people hear it.
- Deafness; at this point, speech cannot be understood even when the sound is increased to the highest or when it is amplified.
- Profound deafness; is the absolute and total inability to hear any sound at all.
According to research, the degree of sound you hear or the severity of your hearing impairment can be measured by how high the volume of a sound needs to be turned on in order for you to hear and understand.
Levels of Hearing Loss
The following are the four different levels of hearing impairment or hearing loss;
- Mild hearing impairment; people with this level of deafness may be able to hear sounds that are within 25 and 29 decibels and as well find it difficult to understand people when they talk, especially when there is background noise.
- Moderate hearing impairment; hearing here is quite difficult without a hearing aid. Victims of moderate deafness may only be able to hear sounds that are within 40 to 69 decibels.
- Severe hearing loss; the victim here does not hear sounds that are below 70 to 89 decibels. It is so severe that they would need to lip-read the speaker before they can make out anything from what the speaker is saying.
- Profound deafness; people who cannot hear sounds below 90 decibels have profound or total deafness. People with profound deafness may not be able to hear any sound at all, and they would always need sign language for communication.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The following are symptoms of hearing loss;
- Difficulty hearing sounds, especially consonant sounds.
- Muffling of speech when talking
- Difficulty hearing and understanding words except for the lips of the speaker is read.
- Difficulty hearing at all when there is little or no background noise
- Withdrawals from discussions and conversations
- Increasing the volumes of gadget excessively to get a proper hold of what is being said
- Avoidance of social gatherings
Some people are born deaf, while others turn deaf as a result of certain illnesses or accidents. Some health conditions have hearing loss as their symptoms; some of these medical conditions are; stroke and tinnitus.
Hearing Loss In Infants
An infant may be having hearing impairment if…
- Before 4 months, the infant does not react or turn towards the direction of a sound or noise.
- By 1 year, the infant has not uttered a word.
- The infant does not get moved or startled by loud sounds or sudden noise.
- The infant responds to your call only when they see you and respond less when they do not.
- The infant is conscious of only one kind of sound.
Hearing Loss In Young Children
Children may be said to be suffering from hearing impairment if…
- His/her oral communication is poor and far behind their mates in oral communication.
- The child wants you to always repeat what you have said to hear well.
- The child keeps saying, ‘pardon?’
- The child shouts loudly when speaking but does not know he/she is shouting.
- Unclear speeches
Causes of Hearing Impairment
- Inner ear damage, loud noise, and aging are major factors that cause inner ear damages that eventually lead to slight ear loss. These factors may cause the nerve cells or hair-like cells to tear or wear off, such that sound signals do not pass successfully.
- Excessive ear wax; when the wax build-up in your ear becomes too much, blockage in the transmission of sound occurs in the ear canal. As soon as the wax is removed, hearing becomes stable and normal again.
- Infections; infections to the ears, especially the middle ear, can lead to hearing loss.
- Tympanic membrane perforation; is also known as eardrum rupturing. This could be a result of loud noises, insertion of sharp objects into the ear as well as an ear infection.
- Age; a lot of organs in the body decline as you age, one of which is your ear and ability to hear.
- Occupational noises; jobs like construction, factory, and farming where noises are common can lead to ear damage for such workers.
- Heredity; you have more chances of suffering from hearing loss if any ear impairment is in your family history.
- Certain medications; medications have been found to cause ear damage. Although the damage may be temporal and mild but could worsen if ignored. Some of these drugs include; certain antimalarial drugs and large doses of aspirin.
- Loud noise; the cells of the ear tear or damage through the loud blast of sounds. This can result from constant recurring loud noises.
- Recreational noises; some recreational activities such as motorcycling or the loud sound of music can lead to permanent hearing loss.
- Certain illnesses, illnesses like stroke or meningitis, can damage a part of the ear.
Though certain kinds of hearing impairment cannot be a cure. For instance, the sensorineural hearing impairment where the hair-like cells get damaged beyond repair does not have a known cure. It leads to permanent deafness. However, some other treatment measures have been discovered for the treatment and management of curable hearing impairments.
- Hearing aids; are devices that, when attached to the ear, helps improve the quality of sounds for people with hearing loss. Some of these hearing aids can be inserted in the middle, inner or outer ear, depending on where the ear damage occurred.
- Implantation cochlear; this involves the insertion of an electrode to aid hearing. This is majorly done for people whose ear damage is a result of damaged ear hair cells. Implantation of cochlear includes the insertion of the following;
- A microphone
- A transmitter
- A speech processor
- Avoid noisy places
- Go for ear testing to monitor your ear health.
- Do not embed sharp objects into your ear.
- Clear your ear of ear wax
- Avoid physical activities or recreational activities that involve excess noise.
- Avoid injuries from reaching your ear.
- Treat illnesses that can have adverse effects on your hearing before they get complicated.
In conclusion, hearing loss is caused by various factors, and unfortunately, not all hearing impairments are curable. Total or permanent deafness is irreversible, and such victims would require a change of language to better understand their environments, even with their impairment. Some of the reasons for hearing impairment are avoidable, while others are not. It is important to prevent hearing impairment as much as you can than fighting really hard to treat it.