Categories: disorders

Hearing Loss: Causes, Risk Factors, Types, Treatment and Prevention

Hearing loss

Hearing loss is usually caused by the dysfunction of the inner ear, auditory nerves, the cochlea, or due to brain damage. The hearing loss is usually due to impaired hair cells in the cochlea. Therefore, as individuals raise older, their hair cells lose few functions, and hearing gets worse. Therefore, there are multiple causes of hearing loss. It may be hereditary or due to the aging process. It can be activated by an explosion of loud noise, infections, the effects of poisons or may be due to injury.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss may comprise:

  • Muffling of sounds and speech.
  • Difficulty in understanding the words.
  • The trouble hearing consonants.
  • Repeatedly asking other people to speak more gently, noticeably and loudly.
  • The need to turn up the volume of the TV set or radio.
  • Taking away himself from conversations.
  • The avoiding of some community settings.

Causes of hearing loss

The general causes of hearing loss include:

  • Damage to the inner ear due to aging and exposure to loud noise. When these hair cells are impaired or lost, the electrical signals may not convey as capably, and as a result, hearing loss occurs.
  • The slow but sure buildup of earwax. Therefore, the earwax may block the ear canal and also stop the transmission of sound waves. The removal of earwax may help to repair the hearing.
  • Any ear infection, tumor and abnormal bone growths in the outer or middle ear may cause hearing loss.
  • Cracked eardrum i.e. tympanic membrane perforation. The loud noise of blasts, abrupt variations in pressure, stabbing the eardrum with any object and infection may be the reason for rupture of eardrum and affect the hearing. Sometimes the extreme noise at the workplace. The level of noise should be less than 85 dB.
  • The noise levels in restaurants, concerts, clubs, and cafes can often approach risky levels and may affect the hearing.

However, the hearing loss that happens progressively as you age (presbycusis) is common. So, around one-third of individuals in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some grade of hearing loss. For older than 75 years, that number is almost 1 in 2.

Risk factors

Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:

  • Aging

The deterioration of inner ear structures happens over time.

  • Loud noise

Exposure to the very loud sounds may also damage the cells of the inner ear. The damage may also happen with the long-term exposure to the very loud noises, or from a small blast of noise, such as from a firing.

  • Heredity

The genetic history may make the person more vulnerable to ear harm from sound or worsening from aging.

  • Occupational noises

The types of jobs where brash noise is a consistent part of the working setting, such as agri-business, production or factory work may lead to the destruction of the human ear.

  • Recreational noises

The exposure to tense noises, such as from weapons and jet machines may cause instant, lasting hearing loss. Other recreational activities with hazardously high sound levels include snowmobiling, motorcycling, woodworking or attending to loud melody or concerts.

  • Some medications

Many medications such as the antibiotic like gentamicin, sildenafil and certain chemotherapy medications may damage the inner ear. Momentary effects on the hearing i.e. ringing in the ear called tinnitus or hearing loss may happen if the person may take very high doses of aspirin, pain killers, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.

  • Some illnesses

Many illnesses or infections that consequence in high-grade fever, such as in the case of meningitis, may harm the cochlea.

Types of Hearing loss

It is defined as one of three types:

  • Conductive (it involves outer or middle ear)
  • Sensorineural (it involves inner ear)
  • Mixed (it is the combination of the two)

The aging and chronic exposure to the loud noises both contribute to this problem of hearing. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can momentarily decrease how well our ears conduct sounds.

It is not possible to reverse most types of hearing loss. However, a hearing expert can take steps to improve the hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss

This is due to complications with the ear canal, ear-drum, or middle ear and its tiny bones i.e. the malleus, incus, and stapes.

The causes of Conductive Hearing Loss are

  • Abnormality in the structure of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear.
  • The presence of fluid in the middle ear due to colds
  • Ear infection such as otitis media that is an infection of the middle ear in which an increase of fluid may interfere with the movement of the eardrum.
  • Certain allergies
  • Poor function of the eustachian tube
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign type of tumors
  • Compressed earwax
  • Infection of the ear canal
  • Foreign object in the ear
  • In case of the otosclerosis that is a hereditary disorder in which a bony growth forms around a small bone in the middle ear. Therefore, preventing it from vibrating when motivated by sound.

Surgery may correct the conductive hearing loss that is due to the congenital absence of ear canal or failure of the ear canal to be open at birth, congenital deficiency, deformity, and dysfunction of the middle ear structures.

  • The amplification may be a solution with the use of a bone-conduction hearing aid, or a surgically implanted, Osseo-integrated device, or a conventional hearing aid.
  • Antibiotic or antifungal medications are used in the treatment of chronic ear infections.
  • Tumors usually require surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This is due to difficulties of the inner ear, also called nerve-related hearing loss.

Mixed Hearing Loss

This is due to a combination of conductive impairment in the outer or middle ear and sensorineural injury in the inner ear i.e. cochlea or auditory nerve.

How you hear?

The human ear consist of three major areas:

  1. Outer ear
  2. Middle ear
  3. Inner ear

The auditory nerve then carries these signals to the human brain through a series of steps.

  1. Sound waves enter the outer ear and travel through a narrow pathway called the ear canal, which then leads to the eardrum.
  2. The eardrum vibrates by the incoming sound waves. However, send these vibrations to 3 tiny bones in the middle ear. These bones are named the malleus, incus, and stapes.
  3. These bones in the middle ear couple the sound vibrations from the air to fluid vibrations in the cochlea (inner ear). The cochlea shaped like a snail and occupied with fluid.
  4. An elastic barrier runs from the start to the end of the cochlea and therefore, splitting it into an upper and lower part. This partition or barrier is called the basilar membrane because it serves as the base on which the key hearing structures sit.
  5. As soon as the vibrations cause the fluid inside the cochlea to flow, a traveling wave forms sideways the basilar membrane. The hair sensory cells sitting on top of the basilar membrane drive the wave.
  6. As per the hairs cell move up and down, the microscopic hair-like projections that perch on top of the hair cells smash against a partly cover structure and bend. The bending causes hole like channels to open up. When that occurs, chemicals rush into the cells, creating an electrical signal.
  7. The auditory nerve carries this electrical signal to the brain, which then converts it into a sound that we distinguish and comprehend.

Complications

Hearing loss can have a noteworthy effect on the human quality of life. The older adults with hearing loss problems may report the state of mind of despair. Because the problem of hearing loss can make chat difficult, many individuals may have feelings of Isolation.Hearing loss is also related the intellectual deficiency and deterioration.

The mechanism of interaction between hearing loss, intellectual weakening, despair and isolation is being vigorously deliberate. Latest research recommends that treating hearing loss can have an encouraging effect on cognitive performance, particularly memory.

Preventive measures

The following steps can help prevent noise encouraged hearing loss and avoid deteriorating of age-linked hearing loss.

  • Protect your ears

By limiting the duration and strength of exposure to noise is the greatest protection. In the place of work, plastic earplugs or glycerin-filled earmuffs can help defend the ears from harmful noise.

  • Hearing tested

Try to consider regular hearing tests, if the person works in a loud setting. If the person lost some hearing, they must take steps to stop additional loss.

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