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Hearing Problems

Hearing loss is when your ability to hear is reduced. A hearing loss makes it more difficult for you to hear speech and other sounds.

The most common causes of hearing loss are noise and ageing. In most cases a hearing loss cannot be cured. Hearing loss is typically treated with hearing aids.

Causes of hearing loss

A hearing loss can be caused by many factors, but age and noise are the two most common causes.

Loss of hearing is a natural consequence of getting older. Our hearing ability worsens in our 40s and onwards and when we reach our 80s, more than half of us suffer from significant hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is also called Presbyacusis.

Another common reason of hearing loss is exposure to noise. It can also be a consequence of living in a noisy world. This noise can come from our work or from voluntary exposure to noise, such as noisy motors or loud music at rock concerts, night clubs, discos and from stereos - with or without the use of headphones. The increasing use of portable MP3 players is increasing the effects of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can also occur as a result of other causes. It can be caused by:

Symptoms most often arise after an aneurysm ruptures. These symptoms may include:

  • Some diseases and infections
  • Certain syndromes
  • Medications and drugs
  • Damages to the ears
  • Injuries to the head
  • Malformation of the ear or blockage of the ear
  • Genetic factors
  • Tumors in the head
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Solvents
  • Cholesterol

Types of hearing loss

A hearing loss can be sensorineural, conductive or mixed. A sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. Age-related hearing loss also known as Presbyacusis is a type of sensorineural hearing loss and so is a noise-induced hearing loss, which is a permanent hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise.

A conductive hearing loss is where the ears’ ability to conduct sound from the outer ear through the middle ear into the inner ear is blocked or reduced.

If there are problems with conducting sound to the inner ear and the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged at the same time, it is called a mixed hearing loss. It is a combination of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss.

A hearing loss can also be a bilateral hearing loss or a single-sided hearing loss.

You can also have a hearing loss in one ear. It is called unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness. A hearing loss in both ears is called a bilateral hearing loss.

A hearing loss can also occur suddenly from one day to the other. This is called a sudden hearing loss.

In some cases, a hearing loss can be hidden. This is called a hidden hearing loss. It is a type of hearing loss that cannot be measured by a common hearing test. You may have a hidden hearing loss if you experience problems with hearing in situations with background noise.

Symptoms of hearing loss

Most cases of hearing loss develop gradually so the symptoms are often difficult to recognize. If you experience some signs of hearing impairment, you should contact your family doctor or hearing health care professional and have your hearing tested. Read more about the symptoms of hearing loss.

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