It’s quite normal for a person to experience some hearing loss during their life. Hearing loss is far more common than most people realize. In fact, around 466 million people throughout the world have disabling hearing loss. That represents over 5% of the global population.
There are many causes of hearing loss, with the most common being aging and exposure to loud noises. Other major contributors include genetics, illness, trauma, damage to the inner ear, a build-up of earwax, infections, abnormal bone structure, and adverse reactions to medication. While a lot of hearing loss is treatable, preventative measures are the most effective ways to manage it.
There are three main types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss: this is the most common form of hearing loss. It involves permanent loss due to damage to the auditory nerve or the cilia.
- Conductive hearing loss: this type of hearing loss is due to interference or harm caused to the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being directed to the inner ear. The inner ear and auditory nerve remain unharmed. Conductive hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.
- Mixed hearing loss: hearing loss can be a combination of sensorineural and conductive.
Hearing loss is measured in decibels and is categorized from mild to profound. The ranges of each are as follows:
- Mild: 25-40 dB hearing loss.
- Moderate: 41-65 dB hearing loss.
- Severe: 66-90 dB hearing loss.
- Profound: More than 90 dB hearing loss.
Can hearing loss be restored?
Some hearing loss is temporary and can be treated and restored quickly and easily. However, more significant hearing loss can be permanent. If your auditory nerve or cilia is damaged, they can’t be repaired. The good news is that although your natural hearing ability might not be possible to restore, you can undergo successful treatment through hearing aids or cochlear implants.
The key to successfully treating hearing loss is to take action as soon as possible.
Restoring sensorineural hearing loss
As mentioned, damage to the auditory nerve or cilia can’t be repaired. There is a possibility of bypassing the damaged section of the auditory system through a cochlear implant. This has been a successful method of restoring some hearing loss for those with sensorineural loss.
Hearing aids can also be used to improve the hearing of those with sensorineural loss.
Restoring conductive hearing loss
Certain conductive hearing loss can be treated effectively. People have had some or all of their loss restored from various types of treatment. Blockages, wax impaction, and growths are often removed or treated successfully using antibiotics.
Issues such as stenosis, exostoses, otosclerosis, and ossicular chain discontinuity can be difficult to restore medically. Hearing aids and middle ear implants are some of the best ways to treat conductive hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss
Due to the nature of mixed hearing loss, it must be treated on a case-by-case basis. The treatment may be sensorineural, conductive, or both.
Hearing loss treatment
The first step toward getting treatment for your hearing loss is to get a hearing test. This can provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your hearing loss, giving your hearing instrument specialist (HIS) the relevant information to advise treatment.
A HIS evaluates people with hearing problems and provides recommendations on what instruments are best suited to your hearing loss. Hearing aids are some of the most effective treatments for loss. There are several different styles to suit particular types of hearing loss. Some of the most effective and common include:
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids: ITE hearing aids are custom made in two varieties. The full shell design fills the majority of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. The half-shell design fills the lower area in the bowl-shaped section. These are for those who have mild to severe hearing loss.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids: BTE hearing aids loop over the top part of the ear and sit behind it. A custom earpiece (earmold) is fitted for your ear canal. These aids can be used to treat most hearing loss.
- In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids: ITC hearing aids are custom-molded to fit the ear canal. They are quite hidden compared to other hearing aids. ITC aids can improve mild to moderate hearing loss.
Hearing loss prevention
One of the best things you can do for ear health is to take preventative measures. Remember that your ears and hearing ability are vulnerable in certain scenarios. Use ear protection where necessary, avoid exposing your ears to excessively loud noise, and have your hearing tested.
For more information about hearing loss and the potential treatments available, don’t hesitate to contact Nu-Life Hearing Centre today: 905-697-3838.