Hearing Loss: Symptoms and Treatment

23 February, 2020
Hearing loss affects 360 million people worldwide. As you get older, you're more likely to suffer from this. Keep reading to find out more.

Hearing loss is when you have a hearing impairment, and can’t hear correctly. In fact, there are a few steps your body has to go through in order to hear correctly.

First, sound enters through the ear canal. It hits the eardrum and makes it vibrate. This vibration moves to a chain of tiny bones that simulate the cochlea.

Inside the cochlea, there are some cells that transform these vibrations into energy. This energy moves through the auditory nerve to the brain stem as a nerve impulse. From there, it reaches the cerebral cortex. Finally, you’re aware that you’re hearing sound.

The type of hearing loss depends on what part of the process fails. Therefore, we’ll show you the different types of hearing loss, as well as how to treat them.

Types of hearing loss

There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. If the outer ear and middle ear (the eardrums and ossicles) are not intact, it’s conductive. However, in sensorineural hearing loss, the cochlea, acoustic nerve, brain stem, or cerebral cortex may be damaged.

Symptoms

Usually, people take a while to detect this condition. This is because your body tries to compensate in lots of different ways. There is a wide spectrum of changes related to hearing loss.

The main symptom is what kinds of sounds you can or can’t hear. In general, low-intensity sounds are harder to hear in conduction hearing loss. However, in sensorineural, it’s hard to distinguish sounds, but you can hear their intensity.

A woman speaking to an elderly lady.

Usually, it’s harder to hear high-pitched sounds. Because of this, it’s usually harder to hear female voices than male voices. In addition, people with this issue have a hard time hearing when there are noises in the environment. In other cases, they may think certain sounds are louder than they actually are.

Depending on the cause, there are other common symptoms of hearing loss. One of the most common symptoms is ear pain. Additionally, if the balance receptor organ is damaged, you may also experience vertigo and dizziness.

Keep reading: Five Consequences of Loud Sound on Your Health

Having hearing loss without treatment could make it hard to communicate. It could also have other emotional consequences, like depression.

Treatment

To treat hearing loss, you need to know what causes it. Then, depending on the type, doctors can recommend the best treatment.

Treatment for conduction hearing loss

If the cause is a wax plug, doctors will remove it. If it’s damage to the ossicles chain, they could repair or replace it. However, if the problem is otitis, they’ll prescribe antibioticsAlso, if there’s fluid from an infection, doctors will drain it.

For a damaged eardrum, like from perforation or scars from infections, doctors could repair or replace them.

There’s also the option of implantable bone conduction hearing aids. They capture the vibrations from sounds in the air and transfer them to the inner ear. Then, they can fix the problems in the middle ear.

Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss

Hearing aids are one treatment option for hearing loss.

In these cases, the causes usually aren’t reversible. Therefore, you might have to get an implant that does the job for you. There are also therapeutic options, as well as non-implantable prosthetic treatments.

In other words, you could get a hearing aid. They modify sounds depending on the patient’s specific needs. Generally, there are two types of hearing aids:

  • Cochlear implants. These replace the function of the organ of Corti.
  • Auditory brainstem implants. They stimulate this area without sound needing to go through the inner ear or auditory nerve.

Finally, keep in mind that the only person that can give you the best treatment option is a professional with the relevant training for it.

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