Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual however, it often remains undiagnosed for many years before patients seek help. Hearing loss is more common than you would think, so being aware of the causes and symptoms means you are less likely to suffer the long-term negative impacts associated with hearing loss. The following guide is designed to help you recognise hearing loss symptoms, and minimise negative impacts with appropriate solutions, including rehabilitation, aids and assistive devices.
What causes hearing loss?
The three main types of hearing loss are Sensorineural Hearing Loss, Conductive Hearing Loss, and Mixed Hearing Loss. Hearing loss may also be referred to as Acquired – starts after birth, or Congenital – occurs at birth, or as a result of hereditary causes.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss refers to nerve damage in the inner ear. It is most often permanent, and impacts sound clarity and amplification. The most common causes of this type of hearing include:
- prolonged exposure to loud noises such as heavy machinery. In the past, Sensorineural Hearing Loss has been referred to as Industrial Deafness, due to the link between constant, loud noise on worksites and hearing loss
- illnesses such as mumps, meningitis and measles
- hereditary conditions
Conductive Hearing Loss is usually caused by a disruption of the sound pathway through the inner ear, resulting in a decrease in loudness. Conductive Hearing Loss may respond well to surgery and medical management, because the most common causes include:
- a blockage caused by wax or a foreign object
- severe infections
- bony growths in the outer ear canal
- middle ear infections
- unhealed perforated eardrums
Mixed Hearing Loss refers to damage in both the middle ear and the inner ear, and is often the result of multiple, untreated conditions.
How can I recognise the symptoms?
Because many people experience gradual hearing loss as they age, they may not be aware that their capacity to hear has diminished. Here are some of the usual signs of hearing loss:
- you regularly ask people to repeat themselves
- people often sound like they are mumbling when they speak to you
- you get tired from listening to others
- you lean in and/ or cup your ear to hear what other people are saying
- you cannot work out where sounds are coming from
- you need to have the TV or radio louder than other people
- your family has a history of hearing loss
- your ears are always ringing
- you have been exposed to constant noise in your workplace
- people keep telling you that you speak loudly
- you avoid social gatherings because you cannot hear properly
What are the impacts of untreated hearing loss?
If hearing loss is left untreated, it may result in permanent damage that cannot be rectified with aids or assistive devices. Untreated hearing loss can also lead to other health issues, including:
- depression, and other mental health problems
- fatigue and stress
- withdrawal from social events
- a reduction in overall health
- reduced alertness
- impaired memory, and a reduced ability to learn new tasks
- feelings of isolation and loneliness
- fear of change
We have written an article about the consequences of ignoring hearing loss, you can read it here.
What solutions are available?
At The Hearing Club, we believe clarity of hearing equals quality of life. The best way to check your clarity of hearing is with a Hearing Assessment. The Hearing Club has a variety of solutions available, depending on your results, to assist with improved hearing. Our independent audiology clinic has qualified staff ready to help with:
- assessments and hearing rehabilitation
- hearing instruments, including hearing aids and CROS system
- assistive listening devices for your television, telephone, alarm system, doorbell and more
Contact The Hearing Club, your independent audiology clinics in a variety of locations across Central Victoria and the Macedon Ranges, to find out more about hearing loss, or book a hearing assessment today.