What is Hearing loss?
Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. Factors that determine how much hearing loss will negatively affect a person’s quality of life include:
- the degree of the hearing loss
- the pattern of hearing loss across different frequencies (pitches)
- whether one or both ears is affected
- the areas of the auditory system that are not working normally—such as the middle ear, inner ear, neural pathways, or brain
- the ability to recognize speech sounds
- the history of exposures to loud noise and environmental or drug-related toxins that are harmful to hearing age
The Hearing & Audiology staff at Zeneth Health care is dedicated to helping people of all ages who have hearing concerns. We provide comprehensive hearing evaluations, hearing aid sales, fitting, and follow-up services for the most advanced digital hearing aids available.
- Visible congenital or traumatic deformity of the ear
- History of active drainage from the ear within the previous 90 days
- History of sudden or rapidly progressive hearing loss within the previous 90 days
- Acute or chronic dizziness
- Unilateral hearing loss of sudden or recent onset within the previous 90 days
- Visible evidence of significant cerumen (wax) accumulation or a foreign body in the ear canal
- Pain or discomfort in the ear
- Difficulty hearing in background noise
- Difficulty understanding women’s and children’s voices
- “I hear fine, but it sounds like people mumble!”
- Speech sounds are muffled
- Turning the TV or radio louder than others
- Asking people to repeat; saying “huh” or “what” often
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Ears feel stopped up
Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically. Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss:
- Fluid in the middle ear from colds
- Ear infection (otitis media)Allergies (serous otitis media)
- Poor eustachian tube function
- Perforated eardrum
- Benign tumors
- Impacted earwax (cerumen)
- Infection in the ear canal (external otitis)
- Swimmer’s Ear (otitis ecxterna)
- Presence of a foreign body
- Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. Some possible causes of SNHL:IllnessesDrugs that are toxic to hearingHearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)AgingHead traumaMalformation of the inner earExposure to loud noise
Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.
If the hearing loss is mostly conductive, speech tends to sound understandable, but only if it’s loud enough and there isn’t too much background noise. If the hearing loss is mostly sensorineural, there may be difficulty understanding speech, even when it seems loud enough.
Hearing Loss Prevention
Did you know that hearing loss from noise is 100% preventable? To avoid noise-induced hearing loss, wear hearing protection around loud noises, such as when using lawn equipment or power tools, when driving motorcycles, or when attending noisy events such as concerts or truck or car racing or entertainment events. The noise from firearms is so loud that just one time without hearing protection can cause permanent hearing loss. Special hearing protection earmuffs should be worn anytime using firearms.
Hearing loss from overuse of loud music can be prevented, as well. If your child maxes out the volume for five or more minutes a day, they could be permanently damaging their hearing. Most of the music devices today, have a volume control limiting function, and can be downloaded onto some older models also. For safety, set the volume line at 60% or less of the player’s maximum level.