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Facts About Hearing Loss

Updated on September 5, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

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Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common problem, which occurs for a variety of reasons. Some reasons for hearing loss include; age, disease, long term exposure to loud noise and heredity. It can be difficult to have a conversation with family, friends, doctors and it can be difficult to hear alarms or doorbells with hearing loss. Excessive earwax can temporarily reduce hearing. Unfortunately, most hearing loss is not reversible.

Ear Anatomy

There are three parts to the ear. outer, middle and inner ear.

The outer ear consists of:

  • Pinna - the area we see
  • Ear canal
  • Eardrum - tympanic membrane separating the pinna and ear canal

The middle ear consists of:

  • Eardrum
  • Ossicles - three small bones sending the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear

The inner ear consists of:

  • Cochlea - snail shaped organ for hearing
  • Semicircular canals aiding balance
  • Nerves from the inner that send sound information to the brain

How the Ear Works

When sound waves reach the eardrum via the ear canal it then vibrates. The sound waves are transferred by the middle ear’s tiny bones to the fluid filled inner ear. The fluid moves the hair cells that generate nerve impulses that are then taken to the brain by the cochlear nerve. The temporal lobe of the brain interprets the impulses as sound.

Hearing Loss

Presbycusis hearing loss is common, and it is a gradual loss that occurs with aging. In the U.S. approximately one-third of the population have some degree of hearing loss between the ages of 65 and 75, which jumps to one half of the people over 75 years of age. There are an estimated 466 million people worldwide with hearing loss.

There are four types of hearing loss, and they are defined as:

  1. Conductive - involves the middle or outer ear
  2. Sensorineural - involving the inner ear
  3. Mixed loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural
  4. Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

The degree of hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe or profound. A person with severe hearing loss will hear very little speech and only loud sounds. A person with profound hearing loss will not hear any speech.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms of hearing loss, which include:

  • Difficulty in understanding words, particularly with background noise
  • Trouble in hearing consonants
  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Asking other people to speak up or more clearly
  • Withdrawal from conversations or avoidance of some social settings
  • Needing to turn up the volume on the radio or television

Diagnosis of Hearing Loss

There are several ways a physician will diagnose hearing loss, including:

  • Physical examination to look for infection, excess earwax or structural issues
  • A doctor may use the whisper test where one ear is covered and words are spoken at different levels
  • Audiometer tests where an audiologist has you wear headphones and sounds are directed to both ears at various levels
  • Tuning fork tests

Source

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a perception of ringing or noise in the ears that affects 15% to 20% of people, which is a symptom of an underlying condition. Tinnitus can be a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing or humming in the ears. Subjective tinnitus is a noise that only you can hear and objective tinnitus is a noise that your doctor can also hear, which is rare. A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear hair cell damage. This condition is common with age related hearing loss. There are numerous other causes and no cure for this condition unless it is caused by earwax blockage.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Treatments for hearing loss are limited with hearing aids being the most common successful option. Many people do not like using hearing aids, but often they are the best option for improving a person’s quality of hearing.

Treatments include:

  • Ear wax can be removed with suction or a small tool
  • Surgical procedures that vary according to the cause of the hearing loss
  • Hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants for severe loss which amplifies sound and directs it into the ear canal. This will bypass damage or nonworking parts of the inner ear.

Hearing aids typically use the same basic parts to carry sounds into the inner ear to make them louder. Most of them are digital and have a battery. Hearing aids collect sounds from the environment and a computer chip amplifies that sound and converts them into a digital code to make them louder. These amplified sound waves are then delivered into sound waves and delivered to your eas through speakers.

Final Thoughts

Hearing loss is an issue many of us deal with, especially as we age. There are numerous reasons for hearing loss, but aging is the number one reason. There are some ways to help with hearing loss, but using a hearing aide is the number one aid for this problem.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Devika,

    I feel sorry for your neighbor. I agree that most people do not know the facts about hearing loss, and although I was a nurse I learned things in my research. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    10 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    My neighbor has a hearing problem and dizzy spells. After recent examinations he doesn't hear at all. It is interesting to read the facts about hearing most people have no idea about these health issues.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Umesh,

    Thank you so much for your nice comments. I hope you stay blessed too.

  • bhattuc profile image

    Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

    10 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

    Well presented. Crisp and clear. Thanks Pamela. Stay blessed.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Sp,

    I like your upside. LOL

    Your comments are appreciated, as always.

  • sangre profile image

    Sp Greaney 

    10 months ago from Ireland

    It is one of those conditions that we all are going to have to contend with as we age. I always wondered about how it arises over time. Nice article.

    One upside though, is you have a legitimate reason for not hearing what annoying people are saying. :)

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora,

    I am glad you find my medical articles helpful I appreciate your nice comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    10 months ago from The Caribbean

    Thank God for the hearing aid. I don't use one now, but that it will be there if I need it. Thanks to you, Pamela, for these health education articles.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Mike,

    I am glad your cousin has a hearing aid that helps. I appreciate your very nice comments.

  • Readmikenow profile image

    Readmikenow 

    10 months ago

    Pam,

    You certainly provided a lot of valuable information. I have a cousin who is mostly deaf but can hear some sounds with a hearing aid. I think this will help many people who are wondering about their loss of hearing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peg,

    Your comments remind me of my mother's hearing loss. She acted about the same way and she had very small ear canals so the ear wax was a problem. Fortunately, I do not have that problem.

    I appreciate you sharing your experience and for all your comments.

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    10 months ago from North Dallas, Texas

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information about hearing loss. Reading over the facts reminded me of my mother's gradual loss of hearing and how she would withdraw from the conversation or pretend she heard what was said. It's amazing that the buildup of ear wax can play such an important role in hearing loss. Through medical examinations they discovered she also had a congenital deformity in the eardrum on one side which further limited her hearing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rajan,

    I am glad you liked this article and your comments are appreciated.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    10 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Useful information and well explained. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Maria,

    I appreciate your comments, as always.

    Our Labor Day weekend is quiet. I hope you enjoy your as well.

    Love and hugs.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I couldn't agree with you more. So many cannot affod good hearing aids. Thnak you for your comments.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    You've written a good overview of hearing loss. It's a shame that hearing aids are often expensive. If a person doesn't have insurance to cover the purchase price, it may be impossible to buy then. I hope this situation changes soon.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    10 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Thanks for the information, Pamela. Your articles never disappoint.

    Hope you are having a restful Labor Day weekend. Love, Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    I fully agree with you. As we age things sure do change and some hearing loss can happen. I appreciate your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    10 months ago from Houston, Texas

    There are some good things about aging and some that are less good. Hearing loss is in the latter category. At our age, we must cope as best we can.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    You are welcome, Amit.

  • Amit Tariyal profile image

    Amit Tariyal 

    10 months ago from India

    Thanks, Pamela for the awesome article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Amit,

    Thanks you for your comments.

  • Amit Tariyal profile image

    Amit Tariyal 

    10 months ago from India

    Well explained and video explanation is the best part.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric,

    It seems you have the selective hearing problem. ;-) I appreciate your comments. I hope you enjoy the holiday.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish,

    Lets hope you don't inherit the same problem. I think your grandfather could probably pick up a word or two and figure our what you were saying. I hope that hering aids continue to improve but the price needs to be affordable.

    Thanks so much for your comments. Enjoy the holiday!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Venkatacharl,

    I appreciate your comments to the article. There are doctors that clean earwax but the dirt is another issue.

  • Venkatachari M profile image

    Venkatachari M 

    10 months ago from Hyderabad, India

    A good description of the facts and causes leading to hearing loss.

    I am unable at times to clearly catch the attention to understand the words spoken by people. I Consulted a Doctor who advised me to get my ears cleaned thoroughly.

    But, I could not clean them of the dirt.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    10 months ago from USA

    My grandfather was so hard of hearing we had to virtually shout conversations at him. Oddly, however, if we talked about him in a normal tone of voice he’d pick up on what we were saying. My dad has the same problem and the tv is often so loud. Thankfully today’s television sets have volume by fine tuned numbers and we came tell him not to turn it up past a certain number.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    I asked my GP if I should see the ear doctor. He did a couple of simple tests and said my hearing was fine. So I asked how come I could not hear my wife half the time ;-)

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    You have sure have had some experience with hearing loss. I hope your husband's hearing loss doesn't get any worse. My mother had fairly bad hearing loss and didn't even hear real well with her hearing aids.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I appreciate your comments, as always, Linda.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    10 months ago from Washington State, USA

    Good article. Both of my inlaws had terrible hearing loss. In fact, Daddy was so had we resorted to using a white board and writing our comments/questions for him. I don't know what the cause was for his hearing loss; he didn't work in an industry that would subject him to loud noises (and was too old to have been listing to rock bands with amps). But his son (my husband) has a slight hearing loss. We attribute it to him being an aircraft mechanic in the war.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Adrienne,

    I am glad your tinnitus was temporary. That is not usually the case from what I have read. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • alexadry profile image

    Adrienne Farricelli 

    10 months ago

    I suffered from tinnitus a while back and can say it's a nightmare, especially at night. Fortunately, it was temporary.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz,

    My mother had small ear canals and ear wax was an occasional problem for her. Luckily it is not for me. Hearing loss gradually happens to so many as they age. I appreciate your comments.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    10 months ago from UK

    This is a well-researched and interesting article. In the UK build ups of ear wax used to be routinely removed from ears by ear syringing, but this practice is less used these days. It seems that in an aging population, hearing loss is something that we are all going to have to contend with at some stage.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I have tinnitus too. I went to an otolaryngologist and there is nothing they can do about it. I found no treatment in my research either. I hate to give you that news. I do appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill,

    Your situation sounds very much like mine. I have tinnitus too and I don't notice it too often. Usually I notice it first thing in the morning.

    I'm glad you found the information interesting. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna,

    Hearing loss is so common. I'm not surprised that you know people with this problem. My mother had hearing aids for years but she hated them.

    I very much appreciate your very nice comments.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    10 months ago

    Various members of my family have suffered with hearing loss over the years. I also have a friend who suffers from tinnitus due to the constant noisy environment he worked in. He was supplied with ear plugs, however, declined to use them, and now he has a hearing aid. This is an excellent article Pamela with lots of helpful advice and reasons why we suffer hearing loss. Once again I learned something new.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    10 months ago from Olympia, WA

    I have become quite accustomed to tinnitus. I hardly notice the ringing any longer. :) As for hearing loss, not bad. I only have a hard time hearing when there is considerable background noise. All in all, it's just about getting older, my friend.

    Great information! Be well!

  • lindacee profile image

    Linda Chechar 

    10 months ago from Arizona

    My tinnitus that has the humming in the ears. I guess I need to go to a specialist.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rosina,

    I am glad you found this artice interesting and helpful. I appreciate your comments.

  • surovi99 profile image

    Rosina S Khan 

    10 months ago

    I found this article interesting and helpful. I came to know hearing loss happens to some of us as we age, and a hearing aid is the number one solution to the problem. Thank you, Pamela, for the important and informative article.

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