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A mass phenomenon: one in six has a hearing loss

Most people think that seniors are the only ones who experience this condition. However, this is an island wide problem that touches all age groups. In most cases, high frequencies are the first ones that go missing. After that, the ability to hear is in a state of gradual decline. An important fact to remember is that the brain has less support when you can’t hear, which makes it difficult to distinguish sounds and words. Therefore, it is very important you address any signs of poor hearing early on.

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Importance of Hearing and the quality of life

Our ears play an important part in making all the day to day social activities enjoyable. Also, our ears are a natural warning system, capable of detecting oncoming traffic, registering a possible home break-in, or alerting us of any other potential dangers.

The first thing to do when you are experiencing a hearing loss is to educate yourself. That is why you will find relevant information about hearing loss on this page for you to read at your leisure.

Overview

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Types of hearing loss

The medical community has identified three types of this hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. What you do to manage your reduced hearing ability depends on its severity. Hearing aids are the currently one of the best solution to improve your hearing

  • Conductive hearing loss - when hearing loss is due to problems with the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear and its little bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes)
  • Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) - when hearing loss is due to problems of the inner ear, also known as nerve-related hearing loss.
  • Mixed hearing loss - refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.
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1. Conductive hearing loss

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2. Sensorineural hearing loss

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3. Combined hearing loss

Types of hearing loss

  • Malformation of outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear structures
  • Fluid in the middle ear from colds
  • Ear infection (otitis media - an infection of the middle ear in which an accumulation of fluid may interfere with the movement of the eardrum and ossicles).
  • Allergies
  • Poor Eustachian tube function
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Impacted earwax
  • Infection in the ear canal
  • Foreign body in the ear
  • Otosclerosis - a hereditary disorder in which a bony growth forms around a small bone in the middle ear, preventing it from vibrating when stimulated by sound.

Types of conductive hearing loss include congenital absence of ear canal or failure of the ear canal to be open at birth, congenital absence, malformation, or dysfunction of the middle ear structures, all of which may possibly be surgically corrected. If these are not amenable to successful surgical correction, then the hearing alternatively may be improved with amplification with a bone conduction hearing aid, or a surgically implanted device (for example, the BAHA), or a conventional hearing aid, depending on the status of the hearing nerve.

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Head trauma
  • Virus or disease
  • Autoimmune inner ear disease
  • Hearing loss that runs in the family
  • Aging (presbycusis)
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Tumors
  • Meniere’s Diseaese

Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form of hearing loss, may be managed with hearing aids. When hearing aids are not enough, this type of hearing loss can be surgically treated with cochlear implants. Other types of Sensorineural hearing loss can result from acoustic trauma (or exposure to excessively loud noise), which may respond to medical therapy with corticosteroids to reduce cochlea hair cell swelling and inflammation to improve healing of these injured inner ear structures.

It is recommends taking care of the conductive component first. There have been times when the addition of the conductive component made the person a better hearing aid candidate, by flattening out the audiogram for example, while the underlying sensorineural component presented a high-frequency loss. However, still the emphasis would be on treating medically what can be treated and then proceed with the hearing aid fitting

Symptoms of hearing loss

Everybody knows that exposure to loud noises can damage one's hearing. Many aspects of modern life put us in demanding listening environments, such as the workplace, on the street, or at home. It's important to note that loss of hearing can be a result of a head injury, disease, infection, trauma, stress, diet. Genetics is also a common cause.

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These common signs and symptoms are indicators that immediate help should be sought:

Difficulty following a conversation with more than two people at once

Difficulty understanding what people are saying in loud environments, such as busy restaurants, cafes, shops, etc.

Other people’s voices seem muffled

Listening to the TV at a high volume

Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)

Group conversations are exhausting

Consequences of hearing difficulties

Social consequences

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Studies show that people feel unhappy and depressed when they decide not to wear hearing aids. Moreover, your concentration, self-esteem, and speech comprehension are significantly reduced.

Physical consequences

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The physical effects include fatigue, exhaustion, headaches and stress. If you suspect a sign of hearing loss, please call us to schedule a hearing test appointment with a local hearing care center in your area

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