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Understanding Hearing Loss

Hearing health is vital to a person’s overall well-being. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)* more than 5 percent of the world’s population, approximately 466 million people, have disabling hearing loss – of which 34 million are children. The numbers also show that on average people with hearing loss wait as long as 10 years before seeking help.
Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss does not simply mean someone has issues with hearing soft sounds. A person dealing with hearing loss may perceive speech and other sounds as being “muffled” and they may also have difficulty hearing individual words or consonants, especially in noisy environments. Often you will notice that a person with hearing loss turns up the volume of their TV or radio to very high levels. They may also ask others to speak more slowly and clearly or to repeat themselves during conversations.

Changes in behavior, such as lost interest in participating in social events or no longer taking part in conversations, may also be a sign of hearing loss.

Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

The type of hearing loss is usually determined by where the issue arises anatomically in the ear (inner, middle or outer ear) as well as by its severity.

There are three categories commonly used to distinguish hearing loss by origin:

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss refers to hearing loss that arises because sound cannot get through the outer or middle ear. It is often temporary and can be treated with medicine or surgery. This type of hearing loss can, among other reasons, be caused by fluid, earwax or an infection in the ear.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss comes from issues with the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent. Age, noise and genetics are common reasons for sensorineural hearing loss.

Mixed Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is a combination of conductive-, as well as sensorineural hearing loss.Additionally, a hearing loss is defined by its severity - ranging from mild to moderate and severe to profound. Hearing loss is also defined by whether one or both ears are affected and whether it was present at birth or acquired at a later point in time.

Hearing Loss Treatment

Treatment options largely depend on the type and the cause of the hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss can often be improved with medication or surgery. Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, will most likely be supported by means of hearing aids or, if the hearing loss is especially profound, through cochlear implants.

If you think that you or a loved one is experiencing a hearing loss it is best to speak to an expert who will assess your hearing based on a hearing test, and who can help you find the solution that is right for you.