Hearing loss can affect people of any age. One in six adults experience some degree of hearing loss, which increase to three in four above the age of 75.
Hearing loss can affect people of any age.
One in six adults experience some degree of hearing loss, which increase to three in four above the age of 75.
Children are commonly affected as a result of glue ear, but some are born with hearing loss (congenital).
Hearing loss may also occur as a result of serious viral and bacterial infection including meningitis.
Other common reasons for hearing loss include, noise exposure, wax in the ear, ear infections, and sometimes a cause cannot be found.
Types of Deafness
The causes of deafness can be broadly grouped into:
- Conductive problems in the ear canal and middle ear (conductive hearing loss) – A conductive hearing loss can occur due to wax blocking the ear canal, infection, a collection of fluid in the middle ear, trauma or impaired movement/disruption of the bones (ossicles) in the in the middle ear
- Sensori-neural problems, which is related to translation of the sound waves into an electrical signal by the inner (sensorineural hearing loss). A sensorineural hearing loss is due to a problem of the inner ear or of the nerve that carries the signal to the brain. There are many causes, the commonest being age related hearing loss (presbyacusis), and less commonly viral infections, trauma, drugs, noise exposure and congenital causes. Some inner ear problems are reversible, but usually loss is permanent. Extremely rarely, it may be due to a growth or tumour in the brain
- Mixed hearing loss, where the above two co-exist
Treatment of Hearing Problems
Treatment depends on the cause. It is best to see an ENT specialist to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Treatment often includes provision of a hearing aid.
Sudden Hearing Loss: THIS IS AN EMERGENCY
If hearing loss comes on suddenly seek advice immediately from a specialist. It is an emergency, just like a sudden loss of vision. When treated within 24-48 hours the likelihood of regaining hearing increases significantly. This applies even if the hearing loss is just in one ear.