”Listen Up! It’s Time to Take Care of Your Hearing!” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional.
Generally speaking, we take our hearing for granted. There are many deaf individuals out there, but how many hearing people learn sign language? The answer is relatively few. The majority of us assume that we’d never be affected by hearing loss ourselves. This is unfortunate. Not only does learning sign language help you to communicate with non-hearing individuals, but you never know if you’ll find yourself having to use it yourself. The truth is that though we generally associate hearing loss with the elderly, it can actually impact any of us at any point in our lives. Its causes can be genetic, the result of an accident, the result of damage to something as simple as the hairs inside your ear canal, or various other sources. Many of us would really struggle to live our day to day lives without our sense of hearing. So, here’s a quick run-through that should help you to take care of your hearing and identify and tackle any potential problems as early on as possible.
Types of Hearing Loss
It’s important that you are aware that hearing loss isn’t simply hearing loss. The degree of hearing loss doesn’t have to simply be “hearing” or “deaf”. It’s a spectrum with various degrees and hearing often slowly deteriorates resulting in a steady decline in hearing, rather than immediate hearing loss. There are also four main types of hearing loss. These are generally referred to as conductive, sensorineural, mixed and neural hearing loss. Here are the symptoms associated with each!
Conductive Hearing Loss
- Muffled sound
- You find that sounds you hear are low or quiet
Conductive hearing loss is most commonly caused by infections to the outer or middle ear, complete earwax blockage, a deterioration of the bones in the middle ear, a fixation of the middle ear bones, any kind of hole in the eardrum, or even the complete absence of middle or outer ear features.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Muffled speech
- Difficulty focusing on background noise
Problems with receptors in the ears is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. You may find that the hair cells in your ears have been abnormal since birth. Alternatively, damage to the hair cells in your ears or the hair cells may be damaged as a natural part of the aging process.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of symptoms and causes – pretty much a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss!
Neural Hearing Loss
Neural hearing loss generally occurs due to a defect since birth or damage to the ear. It is created by the auditory nerve being missing, damaged or abnormal. The auditory nerve is supposed to carry impulses from the cochlea to the brain, letting you hear properly. The most common causes of neural hearing loss include genetics, acoustic tumors, in-utero exposure to specific infections and severe jaundice during infancy.
Diagnosing Hearing Loss
If you notice any changes in your hearing, or you identify behaviour that could indicate changes in your hearing, it’s absolutely essential that you visit an audiologist and have a hearing test. If problems are identified, the audiologist will be able to recommend hearing aids that can dramatically improve your hearing. This can make all the difference to your day to day life!
Being Fitted with Hearing Aids
Your journey towards being fitted with hearing aids will generally begin with a consultation with your audiologist. This professional will be able to recommend different types of aids that will best suit your needs and preferences – there’s a whole marketful of this equipment out there, so it’s important you invest in the right hearing aids for you first time round. Once you have settled on the model you’d like, they will be able to order your aids for you. If you have requested a custom fit, they will also take ear mold impressions to ensure that the hearing aids fit perfectly. This will involve measuring the correct length of tubing that will connect the earmold to the hearing aid. Once your hearing aids have been delivered or custom made, your audiologist will program them using specialist software. You will revisit their office to test them. This involves sitting facing a speaker that is playing a host of different sounds. Your audiologist will then insert a thin, soft tube into your ear canal. This tube measures the sounds within your ear. As they test the sound, they will make prescriptive adjustments to your aid. By the end of this appointment, you should be fitted with a brand new aid and good to go!
Hearing is extremely important for the majority of us. So, don’t ignore potential problems. Take care of this sense! Hopefully, the above advice will help you to maintain your current hearing health and tackle any problems that may arise!