The ear is a crucial organ responsible for hearing in humans. It captures sound waves and transmits them to the eardrum, sending them to the inner ear and hearing nerve through a chain of three tiny bones called ossicles. The brain interprets these signals as sound. Hearing loss refers to the inability to hear or interpret sounds properly. Nearly 8% of the global population experiences hearing loss; in the United States, around 48 million individuals suffer from hearing impairment.
Causes of hearing loss
Several factors contribute to hearing loss, such as:
- Genetic or hereditary conditions.
- Ear trauma or accidents.
- Exposure to excessive noise.
- Earwax accumulation.
- Diseases and infections.
In cases where a person can't hear out of one ear, such a condition results from an infection, ear wax blockage, head trauma, or a tumor. It is a conductive type of hearing loss. Hearing loss, be it a single or both ears, affects people of all ages.
Types of hearing loss
Hearing loss is generally categorized into three types:
- Sensorineural: Associated with the inner ear.
- Conductive: Related to the eardrum.
- Mixed: Exhibits symptoms of both the types mentioned above.
Among these, conductive hearing loss is quite common, manifesting through several conductive hearing loss symptoms like:
- Muffled hearing or difficulty understanding words, especially in noisy environments.
- A gradual or sudden loss of hearing.
- Pain in the ear.
- A ringing sensation in the ear.
- Issues with balance and dizziness.
How to tell if hearing loss is permanent or temporary
Experiencing hearing loss makes life unpleasant. So, if you have difficulty hearing sounds, contact your doctor and book an appointment immediately. Hearing loss comes with different symptoms, making it hard to tell if it's temporary or permanent. So, Noting your symptoms and the degree of your hearing loss is vital in determining the severity. Also, tests like pure tone audiometry, tuning fork tests, whispered speech tests, speech reception, and word recognition tests help show the extent of hearing loss. Also, on how to tell if hearing loss is permanent or temporary when the loss of sound reception occurs suddenly, without its symptoms deteriorating, it is temporary.
High frequency hearing loss
High frequency hearing loss is when individuals struggle to hear sounds within the 2000 to 8000-hertz range. This typically results from damage to the sensory hearing cells in the inner ear. Those affected may find it challenging to hear consonant sounds and understand feminine voices.
Several factors can lead to high frequency hearing loss, including:
- Ototoxic drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and certain chemotherapy medications.
- Diseases like Meniere's in adults or chronic ear infections in children if left untreated.
- Prolonged exposure to loud noises leads to cochlea damage.
Prevention and management of hearing loss
Preventing and managing hearing loss involves certain lifestyle adjustments:
- Avoid noisy environments, or use earplugs when exposure to loud noises is unavoidable.
- Refrain from risky hobbies that might lead to head trauma.
- Regular exercise to mitigate the onset of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, which can affect hearing.
- Avoid inserting objects into your ear to prevent potential damage to the cochlea.
In cases where you wonder how to regain hearing after ear infection, taking the appropriately prescribed antibiotics helps cure the infection. If fluid and mucus remain after the antibiotics, contact your doctor so a tube can be inserted to help relieve the pressure in the middle ear.
Signs you should get your hearing checked
Hearing loss comes gradually and can deteriorate rapidly if not quickly checked. Here are some signs you should get your hearing checked by your doctor or audiologist.
- Difficulty understanding words in noisy or crowded places.
- Ringing or tingling sensations in your ears.
- Struggling to hear sounds at lower frequencies.
- Regularly asking people to repeat their words or speak more slowly.
- Experiencing pain or pressure in your ears.
Preserving and restoring hearing is essential for maintaining a high quality of life. Early detection, preventative measures, and appropriate management strategies can significantly mitigate the impacts of hearing loss.
The ear is the sensory organ associated with hearing and balance. So, its proper functioning is paramount to having a productive workforce. At ENT of Georgia South, our doctors offer the most innovative and minimally invasive treatment, from prescription drugs to hearing aids and surgical options. Contact us today to get you back to good health and hearing quickly.