“Can you please repeat that?” “Do you mind turning up the TV? I can’t hear it.” “Can you turn off the music? It is making me unable to hear our conversation.” If these examples sound familiar to what you think or say often or hear a loved one say – there may be hearing loss to blame. It quickly becomes frustrating and overwhelming to ask people to repeat what they have said, turn up the volume and still possibly be unable to hear clearly.
Hearing loss can happen in several ways, it can be a complete loss of hearing, gradual loss of hearing, or maybe it is a mixture of hearing being able to hear different sounds (small or loud). If you are experiencing issues with hearing clearly when there is background noise, whether it is mild or severe, it is most likely caused by some type of hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Losses
There are several types of hearing loss. The following are the three most common and can affect one or both ears.
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common type of hearing loss. It is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells located in the inner ear. Signs of and symptoms include:
- Difficulty with conversations involving more than two people
- Difficulty with conversations when there is background noise
- Difficulty in understanding conversations over the phone.
- Not hearing high-pitched sounds
- Sounds seem unclear of people sound like they are mumbling
- Tinnitus, ringing or buzzing in the ears.
2. Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss happens when the outer ear or middle ear fails to conduct sound, either blocked or reduced successfully into the inner ear.
- Speech and other sounds seem distant or muffled
- Pain, pressure in or discharge room the ear
- A feeling of “fullness.”
- Decrease in the volume of the sounds (but the sounds are not distorted)
Hearing loss can also be a combination of sensorineural and conductive types, referred to as “mixed hearing loss.”
3. Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss often affects just one ear and should immediately be examined by a medical professional. It may be caused by viral infections, circulatory disorders, or metabolic disorders. Symptoms include:
- Unexplained rapid loss of hearing
- Loss of hearing all at once or over a couple of days
- It is almost always experienced in one ear only
- It can go away by itself or be reversed by medical treatment
Risks for Hearing Loss
Risk factors for hearing loss may include a combination of the following :
- Genetic Predisposition – Genetic predispositions can make a person more susceptible to experiencing noise-related hearing loss and individual susceptibility to noise.
- Chronic Conditions – Certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can affect a person’s hearing health.
- Injuries – Certain injuries can affect hearing, such as head trauma, a perforated eardrum, whiplash, and frostbite.
- Exposure to High-Noise Environments – Exposure to loud noises can, for any period of time may cause damage and affect hearing.
- Organic Liquid Chemicals – Organic liquid chemicals can negatively affect a person’s immune and nervous systems.
- Ototoxic Medicines – Medicines that damage the ear are called ototoxic, and they can cause ringing in the ears and a loss of balance.
If having a hard time distinguishing between background noises and the sounds you need and want to hear, it is essential to seek hearing professionals to assist in determining the reasons why and help find treatment.