Hearing loss makes it difficult or impossible to hear speech and other sounds. There are different types of hearing loss, and they can range from mild to severe. Some types of hearing loss are temporary, and some are permanent. Here in this aged care guidance, we will share some important facts about hearing loss.
There Are Several Types of Hearing Loss:
- Auditory processing disorders
These occur when the brain cannot process sound. This makes it hard to understand speech or to work out where sounds are coming from.
- Conductive hearing loss
There is when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear, so sound cannot pass through to the inner ear. It may be caused by ear wax, an ear infection, a punctured ear drum, fluid in the ear or abnormal bone growth in the ear (known as otosclerosis). These conditions can usually be treated.
- Sensorineural hearing Loss
This occurs when the hearing organ, the cochlea, and/or the auditory nerve are damaged or malfunction so they are unable to accurately send electrical information to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is almost always permanent.
- Mixed hearing loss
With this type, there is both conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
1 in 6 Australians experience hearing loss. You can have trouble with your hearing at any age, but help is available and there are ways to stop hearing loss from getting worse.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The initial signs of hearing loss can be hard to notice and might include:
- Having trouble hearing in noisy places
- Having trouble hearing conversations and understanding what people say
- Have trouble understanding people unless they are facing you, or often needing to ask people to repeat themselves
- Hearing sounds as muffled, as though people are mumbling
- Needing to have the TV up louder than other people
- Often missing your phone or the doorbell ringing
- Hearing a constant buzzing or ringing in your ears
- Finding that loud noises cause you more discomfort than previously
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
Some people also get tinnitus, where they hear ringing or strange noises in their ears.
It can be hard to determine whether or not children have trouble hearing. Some signs that there might be problems include:
- If your baby doesn’t startle at a loud noise, or turn their head to a sound
- If they start speaking later than other kids or don’t understand simple words like ‘bye bye’ at 4-8 months
- If their speech is unclear, compared with the speech of other kids their age
- If they want the TV volume up high
- If they don’t hear or understand directions
Find out more about hearing loss in children on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website. You should talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your or your child’s hearing.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by:
- Years of exposure to noise, which is especially true for people who work in loud environments, such as live music venues, mining, building or farming
- Ear infections
- A head trauma/injury
- Exposure to certain chemicals or medications including aspirin, some antibiotics and some cancer drugs
- Listening to very loud music with headphones
Nearly everybody finds their hearing gets worse as they get older. In some cases, genetics plays a part — and some families develop hearing problems earlier in life than other families.
Data Courtesy: www.healthdirect.gov.au