Hearing loss is a severe health condition that is affecting a lot of people. It is estimated that about 20% of people in the United States of America are suffering from this condition. There are many factors that cause loss of hearing and one of them is age. At the age of 65, statistics have also shown that one in three persons has a hearing loss problem. Again, it is also believed that 60% of people with this condition are either functioning in the educational settings or in the workforce. Apart from age, there are other reasons for hearing loss. In adults, this condition can either be acquired from illness or inherited from one’s parents. Ear-damaging drugs (ototoxic), tumors, exposure to loud noise, head injury can also cause this condition.
Hearing Loss Consequences
A lot of people are aware that their hearing is gradually deteriorating but are not pushed to seek medical help by any means. Perhaps they might be feeling embarrassed by what they think is becoming a weakness or they do not want to acknowledge the fact that they have the problem. It is better to identify the cause of the hearing loss and then seek medical help. The reason is because hearing loss causes a lot of problems that can affect one’s life generally. Research has successfully demonstrated the effects hearing loss has on a person’s development, and the negative social, cognitive, psychological as well as heath effects that untreated hearing loss can cause. There are far- reaching implications of an untreated hearing loss. In fact, people who have hearing problems may experience incomplete and distorted communications that may have negative effects on their professional as well as personal lives. It can also lead to withdrawal and isolation.
What Untreated Hearing Loss Can Cause
>> Tension, fatigue, depression, and stress
>> Negativism, irritability, and anger
>> Withdrawal or avoidance of social situations
>> Declined alertness and high risk of personal safety
>> Loneliness and social rejection
>> Impaired memory as well as ability to learn new skills
>> Reduction in job performance as well as earning power
>> Diminished psychological as well as overall health
Facts about hearing loss
What people need to know about hearing loss is that the condition is not caused by age alone. In fact, it can come at any age or time, even during childhood. For young people, a mild case of hearing loss can cause a lot of damages. It can cause difficulty in developing speech, learning, and growing the relevant interpersonal skills that are required to succeed both in school and life.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss
There are many causes of hearing loss and noise is one of the most common of them all. In fact, it is considered as one of the most popular occupational illness in America. A gunshot fired at close range to the ear can damage someone’s hearing instantly. Also, constant exposure to loud machinery may over time lead to a serious risk of hearing. People tend to underestimate the risk and harmful effects of noise on hearing. The reason is because that damage of noise on hearing occurs gradually.
The fact is that too much exposure to noise can destroy the cells located in the inner ear. However, the damage caused by too much exposure to noise can be very severe. It can lead to permanent hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, as well as tinnitus, which is ringing in someone’s ears. It is possible for someone to be exposed to hazardous noise on the job or during recreational activities. Prevention of hearing loss needs diligence as well as sensitivity to conditions where one can be of any risk of hearing problems.
- Beware of hazardous noise sources such as firecrackers, firearms, musical concert, power tools, NASCAR, dance club, motorcycles, sporting events, snowmobiles, motorboats, and powerboats
- Heavy industry and factory workers, military personnel, transportation workers, farmers, miners, construction workers, musicians, police officers, firefighters, as well as entertainment industry professionals are at risk of hearing loss, due to the nature of their jobs.
Steps to avoid hearing problems
- If your occupation is exposing you to some risks, discuss this with your employer to make sure your job site has a program in place to protect your hearing. The program should be effective and meet the federal or state regulations.
- Put on hearing protections like earmuffs or earplugs regularly when making use of loud machinery at work or home. You can get foam plugs at most pharmacy stores while earmuffs can be acquired at safety equipment or sporting goods store. Specialized hearing protection can also be bought from hearing clinics.
- Reduce your exposure to noisy activities at home or work. You should also monitor your listening levels as well as the duration of time you listen to devices like MP3 Players e.g. iPods. Also, encourage your kids to make use of their headphones in a conservative manner.
- Always be concerned about your hearing. In fact, make plans to visit a health professional for hearing loss test and always remember that many of the permanent hearing loss problems can be prevented with a good hearing loss prevent strategies.
Sudden Loss of Hearing
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss or sudden hearing loss is regarded as a loss of hearing which is greater than 30dB. It is said to occur in less than 3 days. One may notice this condition in the morning when he or she wakes up or it may also develop rapidly over a period of some days or hours. Before this hearing loss occurs, one may hear a pop sound in the ear. Research has also shown that about 70%, of sudden hearing loss patients have tinnitus. Vertigo occurs in about 50% of the sudden hearing loss cases.
In most cases, the incidents of sudden hearing loss are unilateral. In fact, only about 2% of patients experience a situation of bilateral sudden hearing loss. In about 55% of cases, loss of hearing in left ear may occur.
The use of systematic steroids for treatment has proven to be very effective in most cases but it is advisable to treat the condition early. Studies have discovered that people who started their treatment early (within 2 – 4 weeks) have greater chances of recovering from the condition.
There are different things that can lead to this condition. In about 70% of cases where patients experienced permanent hearing loss, treatment can be made with cochlear implants or diverse hearing aids, as determined by the hearing health specialists.
Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss or SSNHL (sudden sensorineural hearing loss) was discovered almost a century ago, but how to manage the condition as well as its diagnosis was difficult to understand.
There are many factors that can cause this condition. They include:
- Tumors – SSNHL can be caused by different tumors in a patient’s ear, malignant, and benign can also cause the condition.
- Viral infection – It is possible for someone to suffer from hearing loss after ear infection. In fact, there are different viruses that can cause loss of hearing in people and they include measles, mumps, syphilis, rubella, meningitis, AIDS, and others.
- Head trauma which may affect bones or ear drum, as well as hair cells can cause this condition to occur.
- Developmental abnormalities
- Idiopathic disorders which include Meuniere’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many others.
Hearing loss in children
Hearing and speech are two essential tools for every child. They are essential tools of playing, learning as well as the development of social skills. The way children learn is that they try to imitate sounds their ear hears. So, if kids eventually have a loss of hearing that is not detected or treated, they may miss a lot of the speech as well as language around them. This can also delay their speech as well as language development, academic difficulties as well as social problems.
Two out of every 100 children who are under 18 years of age may be affected by different degrees of hearing loss. Fortunately, there are only a few cases of hearing losses that can’t be assisted with the use of modern technology. However, early intervention is considered as the most effective treatment. Performing diagnosis early or hearing aid fitting early, including starting special education programs early can help the child to maximize his or her hearing. It will also create the best chance for a child’s successful development of speech and language.
Types of hearing loss in children
In children, hearing loss occurs in two primary categories. They are congenital (at birth) as well as acquired (occurs after birth). However, these hearing losses may also be conductive, mixed or sensorineural.
Congenital hearing losses: Possible causes
- History of hearing loss in the family
- Infection that may occur during pregnancy such as toxoplasmosis, German measles, and cytomegolavirus.
- Medications that was used during pregnancy (e.g. ototoxic drugs)
- Complications during childbirth (severe infection during birth like herpes, toxoplasmosis, cytomegolavirus or rubella.
- Disorder of the nerveous system or brain
- Genetic syndrome such as Down’s as well as Waardenburg’s syndromes.
Acquired hearing losses: Possible causes
- Infection of the middle ear left untreated
- Eardrum perforation
- Infections such as mumps, meningitis, whooping cough, as well as measles
- Diseases such as Ménière’s or otosclerosis
- Severe head injury
- Ototoxic medication
Hearing Loss In Children: What You Should Know
Occasionally, hearing losses in kids is not permanent. It may be caused by infection of the child’s middle ear or earwax. However, surgery or medical treatment can assist many children with temporary hearing losses to restore their hearing. In most cases, some children may have what is called nerve deafness (sensorineural hearing loss), which is permanent. However, a 3 months old child can also receive a hearing aid.
Types of hearing loss
There are four major types of hearing losses:
- Auditory processing disorder
Conductive Hearing Loss
This hearing loss occurs when the middle or outer ear which interferes with the sound that passes to the inner ear has a problem. This condition can be caused by many factors such as ear infections, earwax, fluid build-up, punctured eardrum, Otosclerosis or abnormal bone growth in someone’s middle ear. However, this condition is more seen in indigenous populations and children. Conductive hearing loss, on the other hand, can be treated with surgery. The condition can also be treated with the use of hearing technologies. Examples of treatment methods used for this condition are bone anchored hearing devices, bone conduction hearing aids, and middle ear implants.
Auditory processing disorder
Auditory processing disorder is a listening or hearing problem that is brain related. This condition is caused by the inability of the brain to process sounds the normal way. This condition can affect someone’s ability to:
- Enjoy music
- Tell the sound that comes before another
- Pinpoint the actual location the sound is coming from
- Different similar sounds from each other. For example, “seventeen” and “seventy”
- Remember instructions previously told
Children who are suffering from this condition may have some difficulties understanding things they were already told, responding to sounds, using speech to express themselves, concentrating properly. Another area that can also be affected is their spelling and reading.
Currently, people do not see this condition as an issue. Over time, they have been able to develop the right skills to deal with it. Although children with this hearing challenge may require extra support and help at school but these kids have the same opportunity to be as successful as other children in the school.
Who Is Affected By Auditory Processing Disorder?
This condition doesn’t affect people of a particular age. It affects all ages and in most cases, it starts from childhood. On the other hand, this condition can also develop in adults too.
Children with this hearing disorder have pronounced problems from a very tender age, but in most cases, the symptoms might not be too obvious or may become visible when they start schooling or have a new job.
Possible causes of auditory processing disorder
The exact causes of ADP (auditory process disorder, have not been completely understood. In most cases, an underlying factor may be identified but not in all cases.
In children, this condition may occur at a young age after they must have suffered from hearing problem such as glue ear, which may have ended but still had a permanent effect that detects how sound is processed by the brain. A genetic defect may also be a possible cause, as most cases seem to be running in some families.
In adults as well as children, this condition may also be linked with brain damage resulting from a brain tumor, head injury, stroke, and meningitis.
In adults, some cases have been associated with changes as one grows old, which can cause changes in the brain’s ability to process sounds as well as progressive conditions that are affecting the nervous system like multiple sclerosis.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This hearing problem occurs when the inner ear or the nerve pathway linking the inner ear to the brain is damaged. In most cases, sensorineural hearing losses (SNHL) can be impossible to correct medically or surgically. In fact, it is considered o be the most popular type of permanent hearing loss.
Sensorineural can also limit one’s ability to clearly hear faint sounds. Even in a condition where speech is loud enough for someone, it may still be sound muffled or unclear to the SHL sufferer.
Possible causes of SHL
- Head trauma
- Inner ear malformation
- Using drugs toxic to hearing
- Hereditary or genetic (Runs in the family)
- Exposure of noise that is too loud
However, technology plays a vital role in reducing the effect of this condition. In fact, there are different technologies such cochlear implants, hearing aids, hybrid cochlear implants.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is made up by the sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. It means that the outer, middle, as well as the inner ear is damaged. This type of hearing problem can be mild to severe. In fact, for people with this condition, sounds might be very soft in volume but very difficult to understand.
Possible causes of mixed hearing loss
This condition is as a result of conductive damage that is done in the outer or middle ear as well as sensorineural damages which is done in the cochlea (inner ear) or auditory/hearing nerve. Other causes include:
- Genetic factors
- Too much exposure to loud noise
- Using certain drugs
- And abnormal aging can cause sensorineural hearing loss
On the other hand, other conditions such as infections, diseases, birth defects, tumor, and head injury can all produce sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
There are different signs of this hearing problem. If the hearing problem is conductive, then speech will sound understandable but only when it is very loud and the background noise is not too much. If the condition is sensorineural, one may find it hard to understand speech even when it is loud enough.
This hearing loss treatment depends largely on the degree as well as the makeup of the condition. In most cases, medications, hearing aids, surgery, or a bone conducting hearing aid can be implanted.
Signs of Hearing Loss
The symptoms of hearing loss of hearing loss may come up slowly or they can come suddenly. In most cases, it is easier for someone to identify that he or she has a hearing loss problem. Pay more attention to your hearing and if you have any of these signs listed below, don’t hesitate to visit a hearing specialist.
- If you feel stressed out when you strain to hear what other people are saying
- Get angry with people because you cannot understand or hear them clearly
- Feel ashamed to meet with new people or because you could possibly misunderstand what other people are saying
- Feel too nervous about trying to understand or hear
- You find yourself withdrawing from social situations that you enjoy in the past because you can’t hear properly.
- You always turn the volume of your TV or radio loud before you can hear properly.
- Need people to repeat words frequently
- Find it hard to follow conversations involving two or more people
- Find it very hard to hear women and children.
- Respond or answer conversations inappropriately.
- Feeling like people are sounding like they are mumbling
- Find it hard to hear well in noisy situations such as restaurants, malls, conferences or in a crowded meeting place.
- Experience severe ringing in your ears
- Intentionally read lips or watch people’s face before you can understand what they are saying to you.
- When hearing loss runs in the family
- Use ototoxic drugs or medications that can cause harm to your hearing system
- Diabetes hearing loss or suffer from other conditions such as thyroids, circulatory or heart problems.
- Have been exposed to sounds that are very loud over a long period of time or exposing yourself to explosive noise once.
On the other hand, some people might also experience age related hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is inevitable. No one is immune to it but still people can do their best to avoid it in the future. If you experience temporary hearing loss, there is no need to panic, just do all you can to see a hearing health specialist to do a proper check and offer treatment as soon as possible.
Cure for Hearing Loss
Currently, there is no cure for hearing loss but scientists are working towards a possible cure for the condition. One reason why hearing loss is difficult to cure is because it has many causes, which make it very difficult for scientist to invent a single cure. Damage done to the hearing nerves which are also called “hair cells” are the most common causes of hearing problems in people. In fact, once these hair cells are damaged, they do not grow back or repair themselves. How many years now, scientists have tried to invent technologies that can mimic the auditory nerves or even replace or repair them once damaged. However, a lot of research has been carried out on smaller animals like birds and mice but not with human hair cells. Scientists are faced with the constant changes that the human ear undergoes which is age-related. Another major cause of hearing loss which poses a problem to researchers is genetic disorder. A lot of people are born with this condition and it is not easy to detect in utero. Once someone is given birth to with congenital hearing loss, there is nothing anyone can do with regards to cure. Unlike hearing loss that is caused by noise and can also be avoided. On the other hand, hearing loss that is caused by damaged bones can be remedied in most causes through surgical intervention.
Is There Hope of Hearing Loss Cure?
Scientists have discovered that birds can re-grow their hair cells but humans can’t but the search has begun for a possible cure for hearing loss in humans. Currently, cochlear implants and hearing aids are the best treatment options for hearing losses. Although there might be no cure yet, but there are series of research going on in different parts of the world to find a possible cure for the condition.
Hearing Loss Claims
There are many solicitors across the country that specializes in handling noise induced hearing loss claims for people who suffered hearing loss due to the condition of their jobs. They help sufferers to seek compensation from organization they worked in the past.
Meaning of Noise Induced Hearing Loss
A good understanding of this concept will help families and suffers of hearing losses. Noise induced is a work related condition also known as industrial hearing loss. This condition is most common in industrial settings where noise is excessive. The level of the noise received in workplace like these can lead to a severe and permanent hearing impairment which has the tendency of causing many issues for the sufferers. It can make them to have challenges with their communications as well as other activities related to sound. Hearing losses that is caused by noise surface many years after, if not decades. In fact, after so many years, a lot of people may not even identify their workplace or work as the original cause of the problem. However, industrial hearing loss is acquired through constant exposure to too much noise, which could possibly damage the cells in the sufferer’s inner ear. Such condition can cause buzzing, muffling or ringing in the ear of the sufferer.
The Cause of Most Industrial Hearing Loss
Industrial hearing loss solicitors may want to have full understanding of any victim’s employment history. This will help them to determine if the sufferer’s hearing was caused by his or her job. In most cases, people who have worked in noisy environment or who are being exposed to high noise levels are more prone to damage. In most cases, there are a lot of people who have been exposed to the same noise but do not have any problem with their hearing, so everyone is different.
Industries With Excessive Noise Are:
- Road drilling
- Car manufacturing
- Machinery operation
Noise Induced Hearing Loss Symptoms
Noise induced hearing loss has different symptoms. It can also vary on how severe the condition is, depending on past factors which includes exposure to noise as well as the type of noise protection used. Before anyone takes action for hearing loss or pursue any hearing loss claims, he or she must identify the symptoms of the condition. However, below is a list of noise induced hearing loss symptoms that can help.
- Do your family members or the people around you complain that you talk too loud?
- Do you normally put your always place your TV on its full volume before you can hear properly?
- Do you find it hard to hear the telephone when it is ringing?
- Do you encounter any challenges hearing people speak to you when there are background noises?
These are questions you should ask yourself and if your answer is yes, it is most likely that you have a problem with your hearing. Anyone can pursue a hearing loss claim, provided he or she has a good solicitor to handle the legal proceedings. So, if you discover that your hearing problem was caused by the nature of your job, you can still be compensated for the damages done to you.