What Causes Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is often associated with advancing age, but this is not always the case. Although it can strike people at any age, the condition most often appears after the age of 65. It does however have many other causes, such as noise exposure, birth defects, infections, injury and medications to name a few.
The two leading causes of hearing loss are age and noise exposure.
1. Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
2. Noise induced hearing loss
Types of Hearing Loss:
In general, there are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural or mixed hearing loss (a combination of both).
1. Conducive hearing loss
2. Sensorineural hearing loss
How the ear functions:
The human ear is a precisely tuned system with a sensitivity and range that easily outperforms the most elaborate sound system ever manufactured. The ear contains many physiological mechanisms, and a breakdown or disruption in any of these can result in hearing difficulties. Fortunately, in most cases you can improve your hearing by wearing hearing instruments.
The anatomy of the ear
1. The outer ear: The shape of the outer ear helps to collect the sound waves and direct them through the auditory canal to the eardrum.
2. The middle ear: Contains the eardrum and three tiny bones: the Hammer, Anvil and Stirrup (also called the Malleus, Incus and Stapes). These amplify the sound waves.
3. The inner ear: Sound waves are changed into electrical impulses by the cochlea. There are tiny sensory cells along the entire length of the fluid filled cochlea. The cochlea transmits the message via the nerve fibres to the area of the brain in charge of processing and interpreting what we hear.
How we hear sounds
How your hearing can change
Our hearing gets weaker over the years, it basically starts to decrease before you become a teenager. It is a very slow process, therefore it is difficult to recognise. Knowing more about what to be aware of will help you monitor your own reactions: If you find yourself saying “What?” and “Sorry could you repeat that?” you will know that
it is time to take action and get your hearing tested.
Keeping up with speech
At meetings and social events there is nothing worse than having to ask people to repeat themselves. You might blame others for mumbling, when it is actually your hearing that is at fault. Communication will become increasingly difficult, until eventually you will withdraw from social situations completely.
Do a quick self-check / Hearing Questionnaire
Do people seem to be mumbling?
Do you have to strain to hear when someone talks or whispers?
Do you have difficulties hearing someone call you from behind or from another room?
Do you need to watch a speaker’s lips more closely to follow the conversation?
Do you find it hard to keep up in meetings, in restaurants, or in lectures?
Do you have to turn up the volume on the TV or radio?
Do you find it hard to hear clearly on the telephone?
Do you have difficulties hearing at the theatre, cinema or other entertainment venues?
Do you find it hard to hear in noisy environments like in the street or in a car?
Do you tend to limit your social activities because it’s difficult to hear and communicate?
Do family, friends, or colleagues mention that they often have to repeat themselves?