Dealing With Hearing Loss & its Causes
Hearing loss can be very frustrating.
As the problem is not visible, people rarely compensate for or understand it. Most hearing losses start with a lack of clarity in voices, meaning you can hear the person speaking, but not always make out what has been said. This can cause many misunderstandings and frustrations in the home; with quite often the most exasperated being the person without the hearing loss.
Most hearing losses develop very slowly over many years, meaning you often don't realize it has happened to you. They can occur as the result of a breakdown in function or blockage in any part of the hearing system. The location of the problem will determine whether the hearing loss is temporary or permanent in nature.
Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss
If an abnormality occurs in the Inner ear
or around the nervous pathways to the brain, this can affect the way in which sound vibrations are converted into nerve signals. Such abnormalities can occur through infections, viruses, hereditary or congential disorders, trauma, or exposure to excessive noise. The most common Sensori-Neural loss is age related hearing loss (Presbyacusis); this is caused by damage to the hair cells in the cochlea
Usually between the ages of 50 and 60, the hair cells in the cochlea
start to deteriorate, particularly in the region which responds to high pitched sounds. In speech, these sounds mainly make up the beginnings and endings of words: consonant sounds such as 'S', 'T' and 'F'. When these sounds are missed, speech sounds to be mumbled or indistinct, with family members often being accused of not speaking correctly. Sensori-Neural losses usually cause the most difficulty in a crowded or group situation, with the speech of individuals blending into the surrounding background noise.
Sensori-Neural losses are usually permanent in nature. Hearing devices
are very effective for overcoming this type of loss, but the success of the devices is very dependent on how well they are 'tuned'. As the hearing loss differs in severity throughout the range of sound pitches, the devices need to be individually configured to give the best sound for each person. Your Hear Again Clinician is highly skilled at making this process as quick and easy as possible for you.
Conductive Hearing Loss
If an abnormality occurs in the Outer or Middle ear
, this will result in a breakdown of sound transmission from the outside world into the head. This is classed as a conductive hearing loss and is quite often temporary in nature. Conductive losses can be caused by something as simple as an excessive build up of wax in the ear canal
and range to infections, fluid build up in the middle ear
, tears (perforations) in the ear drum
, dislocations in the middle ear
bones and hereditary disorders. This type of loss mainly causes a drop in volume sensation, with sounds being muffled or muted.
Some conductive losses correct themselves over time, glue ear in children being a good example of this. Other conductive losses can often be corrected with the appropriate medical intervention. For this reason, if your hearing test with Hear Again uncovers a conductive loss, you will be referred to either your GP or an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist for further investigation into a long term solution to the problem.
If a conductive problem has been investigated previously and deemed to be a permanent condition, hearing devices
can be highly effective to overcome your hearing difficulties. Conductive hearing losses historically have required high powered, large hearing aids, but with new advances in technology these can now be catered for by very discrete devices.