Understanding Hearing Loss
One of the most vital parts of daily life is interaction and communication with our friends and families. Conversations and tone of voice have special meaning. Other things that we hear have meaning too – the sounds of sirens, telephones ringing, birdsong. In order to fully appreciate them, we have to able to hear them.
What happens when part of this experience begins to fade? There can be many signs pointing to hearing loss.
You might notice difficulty hearing on the telephone, or complain that others are not speaking clearly. You may be turning up the TV and radio more than others like, or have trouble hearing when the room is crowded or noisy. Perhaps you experience ringing in your ears. Any of these can indicate a decrease in your ability to hear clearly.
It is easy to have your hearing tested by a qualified hearing professional. If medical treatment is indicated, you will be advised to see your doctor. Or you may want to take advantage of the help provided by trying hearing aids. Hearing aids cannot restore your original hearing ability, but they can help you to make the most of the hearing ability you have left.
Types Of Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss involves the outer and middle ear and may be caused by a wax blockage, punctured eardrum, birth defects, ear infection or heredity, and often can be effectively treated medically or surgically.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (previously called nerve-related deafness) is the most common type of hearing loss. It involves damage to the inner ear caused by aging, pre-natal and birth-related problems, viral and bacterial infections, heredity, trauma, exposure to loud noise, fluid backup or a benign tumor in the auditory nerve.
Mixed Hearing Loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss and means that a problem has occurred in both the outer or middle and the inner ear.
Central Hearing Loss results from damage or impairment to the nerves or nuclei of the central nervous system, either in the pathways to the brain or in the brain itself. This is a rare type of hearing loss.
Tinnitus is a noise that originates from within the ear rather than from the outside environment. This may affect one or both ears and differs in nature, pitch and volume from one person to the next. Many describe the noise as hissing, whistling or ringing in the ear or head. It can be constant or occasional, and if severe, can interrupt daily activities and sleep.
In 90% of cases, tinnitus is accompanied by a hearing loss. In most cases wearing hearing instruments improves hearing and alleviates tinnitus. This enables wearers to better focus on noises, sounds and tones around them and ignore tinnitus.
Clients should undergo medical checkup to rule out underlying medical causes. Treatment of tinnitus may include acoustic stimulation and training, use of hearing instruments or other audio sources to deflect attention away from tinnitus, stress management, relaxation techniques or even a change in diet (reducing caffeine, salt and alcohol).
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