What Causes Hearing Loss

What Causes Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can have many causes, including natural aging, ear wax buildup, noise exposure, viral or bacterial infections, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, diabetes, certain medications, and heredity. 

Hearing loss is a process. It happens gradually over time, which sometimes makes it harder for an individual to recognize that they have a hearing problem. As the hearing loss progresses most individuals will begin reporting that they feel people are mumbling or not speaking clearly which is making it harder for them to hear. Sometimes close family or friends are the first to bring it to your attention by pointing out that you are asking people to repeat themselves during conversations or turning the TV volume up.   

Typically, it takes 7 years for a person to do something about their hearing loss once they recognize they have a problem. That means for 7-years they are struggling to hear in certain listening situations, resulting often in withdrawal from conversations, isolation, poor work performance, and depression.   

Types of Hearing Loss 

There are Three types of hearing loss: 
•Conductive Hearing Loss 
•Sensorineural Hearing Loss 
•Mixed Hearing Loss 

Conductive 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. Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss include Otitis Media , fluid in the middle ear from colds, allergies, poor Eustachian Tube function, impacted cerumen (earwax), or any problems with the bones of the middle ear. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically. If medical intervention is not an option to correct this type of hearing loss then hearing aids usually are an effective treatment. 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

The second type of hearing loss is called Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). SNHL occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. When SNHL is present even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled. Some possible causes of SNHL include illnesses, natural aging of the ear, genetic predisposition, head trauma, stroke, and noise exposure. 

SNHL is permanent loss and usually can not be corrected with medical intervention. Rehabilitative options for this type of loss include hearing aids and assistive listening devices. 

Mixed Hearing Loss 

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. The conductive component of the hearing can often be treated medically, however the SNHL is permanent. Post medical intervention, hearing aids and assistive listening devices are often effective forms of treatment. 

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