Do you often find yourself asking people to repeat what they said? Do you hear loud noises as just faint muffled sounds? Do you hear a constant whizzing in your ears or find it difficult to hear on the phone? Do you usually set the volumes of your radio, television, or phone on high? If your answer to even one of these questions is yes, then you are very likely to be suffering from hearing loss.
Hearing loss is quite common and nearly one third individuals beyond 64 years of age suffer from it. There are different types of hearing loss. Since hearing is a major part of conversations and social settings, people suffering from hearing loss find it difficult to adapt to the change and tend to start avoiding socializing completely.
However, if you scrutinize yourself for the early symptoms and meet with an audiologist in time, this problem can be very often easily solved. Nonetheless, if left untreated, hearing loss can have a major negative impact on the smallest activities of your daily life as well.
Hearing loss is typically of three types with them having different causes and multiple treatment options. Here are the types of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss –
It is caused by malfunction of the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear structures; due to excessive ear infections or the presence of a foreign body in the ear. Basically, there is an obstruction to the conduction of sound through air into the ear leading to hampered hearing.
The treatment is surgery or surgical implants to amplify sounds. Depending on individual cases, even a regular hearing aid can solve the problem.
- Sensorineural hearing loss –
It is a nerve-related hearing loss due to causes in the inner ear. This can have multiple causes such as acoustic injury, tumors, malformed inner ear, genetic causes, and aging. The specialist decides on surgery or corticosteroid prescription after examining the patient and the treatment is person specific.
If the patient is suffering from diseases like Meniere’s disease, the ear specialist (audiolosit or ENT surgeon) will suggest a low sodium diet or surgery to eliminate vertigo. Conversely, if suffering from diseases of the central nervous system, medical management of the base disease can help improve hearing. In cases of irreversible sensorineural hearing loss, which is very common, simple hearing aids, and in severe cases, cochlear implants are also advised.
- Mixed hearing loss –
It is a mixture of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss caused by damage to the outer, middle, or inner ear or the auditory nerve.
Most audiologists recommend the treatment of the conductive part first, but an informed choice to medically eliminate the problem is customized to suit individual needs.
At times, simple problems like hardened ear wax can also lead to severe hearing loss, in which case the audiologist might just flush it out using earwax softeners restoring hearing entirely. While diagnosing the types of hearing loss is relatively simple, a visit to an audiologist is a must to assess the true nature of the problem so that appropriate treatment can be started.