In the U.S., about 13% of people aged 12 years and older have hearing problems in both ears, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These numbers increase as people age due to degeneration. Since it is a pretty common issue, it is essential to talk about it in detail. In this post, you’ll learn more about hearing loss, what causes them, and what are the available treatments.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss falls under two types: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
In this type, the individual has problems with the ear canal, eardrums, and middle ear, including the small bones inside it. Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- Ear malformations
- Fluid pooling in the middle ear
- Ear infection
- Perforated eardrum
- Allergic reaction
- Eardrum perforation
- Benign ear tumors
- Impacted ear wax
- Poor Eustachian tube functionality
- Ear canal infection
- Presence of foreign object
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss involves inner ear problems often caused by nerve damage. Individuals will usually have reduced sensitivity to low and soft sounds. They may also suffer from the inability to distinguish different speech signals. In some cases, they may also lack the perception of loudness.
Some of the possible causes of sensorineural hearing loss are:
- Constant exposure to loud noise
- Head trauma
- Auto-immune ear disease
- Inner ear malformation
- Meniere’s disease
Mixed Hearing Loss
Some individuals may also have a mixed hearing loss. They will have conductive damage in the outer and middle ear and sensorineural issues in the auditory nerve or the inner ear.
Treatments for Hearing Loss
For those with conductive hearing loss, some of the available treatment options include:
For those who have congenital malformations, surgery may be necessary to correct anatomical features. Some conditions that can benefit from surgical correction are malformation of ear structure, failure of the ear canal to open during birth, absence of ear canal, and modification of middle ear structures. Those who have otosclerosis can also benefit from surgery.
According to Helix Hearing Care, amplification is a viable solution for hearing loss. It can either be through the use of a bone-conduction hearing aid or the surgical implantation of a device, depending on the hearing loss severity.
For hearing loss due to infections, administration of antibiotics can help treat the cause of the condition.
Treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss are often tricky. Specialists should inform their patients that such hearing loss cannot be cured but can be remedied.
For individuals whose hearing loss is due to autoimmune inner ear disease, bilateral progressive hearing loss is pretty common. When this occurs, proper drug therapy is often a viable solution. Often, patients would have to undergo long-term corticosteroid medications.
The use of hearing aids has also shown excellent results in helping individuals manage their hearing loss. They need to undergo hearing loss testing to test for severity and identify the best type and design of hearing aid that will suit them.
When hearing aids do not offer much help, individuals with irreversible hearing loss can benefit from cochlear implants, which involve surgically placing an artificial inner ear to assist in hearing.
Hearing loss can affect any person, regardless of their age, and has become fairly standard nowadays. Young children are regularly exposed to loud noises when they listen to music via their earphones. Adults who often commute to work have to deal with travel noises. Older adults can develop hearing loss because of the degeneration of hair cells or medications they take for their diabetes or heart diseases. A simple change in our practices can contribute to protecting us from hearing problems.