A Complete Guide to Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a common health issue affecting many people. The elderly are particularly impacted, with an estimated one-third of people over 65 suffering from this condition. Losing your hearing ability significantly affects your daily life and can predispose you to a variety of other health conditions. Hearing loss occurs at many levels, ranging from mild to severe, referred to as deafness. If you or someone you know experiences hearing loss, the guide below can help in finding solutions.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The majority of the early signs of hearing loss relate to speaking and conversations. As such, you should consider seeing hearing loss specialists if you start experiencing the following:
- Frequently asking people to repeat what they have said
- Muffled sensations in your ears
- Tinnitus or ringing sounds in the ears
- Difficulty in hearing people talking on the phone
- Turning up the TV volume to a level that bothers others
- Trouble sustaining conversations in areas with even minimal noise
- Not hearing common sounds such as dripping faucets, text alerts, and other household noises
- Favouring one ear and turning it to the direction of the sound or voice
- Avoiding social situations as it is difficult to comprehend what others are saying
Hearing Loss Severity
As mentioned, hearing loss occurs at various levels of severity. Below are some levels of hearing loss severity:
- Normal Hearing – There are no symptoms of hearing loss. Such people can hear sounds of 25dB or less comfortably.
- Mild Hearing Loss – People with mild hearing loss have trouble hearing sounds from 26 to 39dB. Quiet conversations or areas with some background noise makes it difficult for them to understand.
- Moderate Hearing Loss – These people have difficulty hearing sounds between 40 and 69dB. They require high volumes to listen to radios and TVs and will frequently ask people to repeat themselves in conversation both in person and over the phone.
- Severe Hearing Loss – Individuals experience problems hearing sounds between 70 and 94dB. They find it difficult to follow conversations and often cannot hear without amplification.
- Profound Hearing Loss – Those with profound hearing loss cannot hear sounds below 95dB. They often can only hear very loud noises and cannot understand conversations without the assistance of a hearing device.
Types of Hearing Loss
The science behind hearing loss is not the same for all patients. Below are the various types of hearing loss:
- Conductive Hearing Loss – Conductive hearing loss results from mechanical problems in the middle and outer part of the ear. It causes sound to be blocked and can be caused by things such as an earwax impaction, infection, or damage. Hearing aids and other medical treatments can help alleviate conductive hearing loss.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss – Sensorineural hearing loss involves the inner ear and results from damage to the tiny hair cells or auditory nerve. As this cannot be treated medically, hearing aids are the best solutions for this type of hearing loss.
- Mixed Hearing Loss – This is a result of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
The Auditory System
Understanding the various parts of the auditory system is key to knowing your condition. Most hearing loss specialists will begin by explaining the different parts of the ear that contribute to hearing. These include the auditory canal, eardrum, ossicles, cochlea, and the vestibulocochlear nerve. Each piece of the ear plays a significant role in the hearing and processing of sound waves. Obstruction, damage, or malfunctioning of one or more of these parts results in hearing loss. Treatment for hearing loss is hugely reliant on the affected part of the auditory system.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Treatment of hearing loss begins by diagnosing your type of hearing loss. While nothing cures hearing loss, hearing loss specialists can prescribe several options to improve your hearing ability. However, this is dependent on your type of hearing loss. Treatment options for hearing loss include:
- Removal of wax impaction
- Surgical procedures on the eardrum and ossicles
- Use of hearing aids
- Cochlear implants
The right solution depends on the state of your condition, cause of hearing loss, lifestyle, personal preference, degree of hearing loss, and budget.
Tests for Hearing Loss
If you show the above-listed signs of hearing loss, consider visiting hearing loss specialists in Toronto to find a hearing test near you. The following tests are used to diagnose hearing loss:
- Tuning fork test
- Audiometric test: pure tone air conduction and bone conduction tests, speech tests.
What Causes Hearing Loss
Hearing loss often results from various causes, with some being cumulative over time. Common causes of hearing loss include:
- Direct injury to the ear
- Brain injury
- Ear tumours
- Some medications
- Obesity or being underweight
- Some viral and bacterial infections
- Working in a noisy environment
- Genetic causes
- Earwax impaction
How to Prevent Hearing Loss
Since hearing loss develops over time, preventative measures should be something you practice throughout your lifetime. Even with no guaranteed method of preventing hearing loss, you can take several steps to reduce the chances of developing hearing loss. Among them, include:
- Wear hearing protection
- Listen to music or watching tv at low volumes
- Consult hearing loss specialists regularly for hearing tests
- Avoid inserting objects into the ear, including cotton swabs
- Treat viral and bacterial illnesses quickly
How is Hearing Loss Tested?
Hearing loss is tested using a combination of various hearing tests. Your hearing loss specialist may begin with an otoscopic examination to visualize the inner ear. Tympanometry, speech testing, and audiometry are also used to confirm the loss of hearing. Audiometry is used to identify the softest sound level that a patient can hear.
Is Hearing Loss Hereditary?
Loss of hearing can result from extrinsic, intrinsic, and idiopathic factors. Extrinsic causes come about as a result of external factors such as injury or noise damage. Intrinsic factors originate within the body, while idiopathic factors have no apparent. Genetic or hereditary causes, meaning that the gene is passed on from a parent, are among the intrinsic causes of hearing loss. This means that the mutation of genes directly resulted in hearing loss.
Can Hearing Loss Cause Tinnitus?
Tinnitus may be a sign of hearing loss. Patients with excessive noise exposure are more likely to experience tinnitus, while those with normal hearing rarely experience it.
How Do I Know if I Have Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss occurs at any age from different causative factors. Therefore, it might not be apparent if someone is suffering from hearing loss. However, a sure-fire way of determining if you have hearing loss is visiting a specialist. Consider visiting a hearing loss specialist in Toronto if you have any of the signs mentioned above.
Get Hearing Loss Treatment in Toronto with Bravo Hearing
Suspecting that you have hearing loss is certainly overwhelming. To check your hearing status, you should consider going for a hearing test as soon as possible. With early detection you can benefit from the wide array of effective methods to improve your hearing. If you have hearing difficulties, schedule an appointment or call us at 416-207-9711 for better hearing loss services in Toronto.