Did you know that approximately 2.5 billion people will have some level of hearing loss by 2050, with at least 700 million requiring hearing rehabilitation? Due to damaging listening habits, almost 1 billion young individuals are at risk of irreversible, unavoidable hearing loss.
Hearing loss affects people of all ages and is the third most frequent chronic medical condition after arthritis and heart disease. When confronted with such alarming numbers, one is bound to ponder about possible hearing loss treatment or preventive strategies. Let’s go over all you need to know about hearing loss and the treatments that are available.
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is defined as the inability to hear as well as someone with normal hearing — auditory thresholds of 20 dB or higher in both ears. Mild, medium, severe, or profound hearing loss are all different stages of hearing loss. It affects one or both ears, making it difficult to hear ordinary speech or loud noises. It can be difficult to comprehend, follow, or engage in conversations if you have hearing loss. You can find it difficult to understand what people are saying on the TV or communicate via phone, and you might miss out on the soothing and pleasant sounds of nature. Hearing loss might interfere with your capability to work and enjoy life.
Hearing loss can be a distressing experience. Hearing loss affects different people differently. It can cause social, mental, and physical issues for many people.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive: With this type of hearing loss, something is typically preventing sound from traveling via the middle ear or the outer ear (ear canal). An ear infection, earwax, or moisture in the ear can all cause a block. Loud noises may be muted, while quiet sounds may be difficult to discern. Medicine or surgery can often be beneficial in this case of hearing loss.
- Sensorineural: The inner ear (cochlea) and the auditory nerve are both affected by this type of hearing loss. It is frequently caused by loud noises, illnesses, or the aging process. This type affects children owing to congenital problems (existing at birth), childbirth trauma, brain injuries, or infections. Sensorineural hearing loss is frequently irreversible. However, with this type of hearing loss, quality hearing aids, recommended in a good hearing aid clinic, can be highly helpful, which we’ll discuss in detail later in this article.
The most prevalent cause of hearing loss is damage to the cochlear hair cells. As we get older, our hair cells lose some of their components, and our hearing suffers as a result.
- Mixed: This is a type of hearing loss that is caused by both conductive and sensorineural causes. Typically, long-term ear infections can cause damage to both the eardrum and the ossicles. In this type of hearing loss surgical treatment can help restore hearing in some cases, although it is not always effective.
The Difference Between Hearing Loss and Deafness
Even if a person’s hearing is impaired, they can still hear well enough to engage in discussions. Hearing aids or other therapies can help them to enhance their hearing capacity.
Deaf people, on the other hand, can only hear a few words or nothing at all. Hearing aids and other devices are ineffective in this case. An individual with deafness can communicate with others through sign language.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is caused by a wide variety of circumstances, the most common of which are natural aging and loud noise exposures. The following are typical causes of hearing loss:
- Noise exposure and aging
- Trauma to the head
- Virus or illness
Things to Do if You Have Hearing Loss
If you suspect you have hearing loss after exhibiting the typical hearing loss symptoms or passing an online hearing test, experts suggest consulting with a hearing specialist.
Start by consulting your doctor or general practitioner (GP), who will almost certainly send you to a hearing professional. You can also visit a hearing healthcare professional such as an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor), an audiologist, or a hearing aid specialist immediately.
Hearing Loss Treatment: Hearing Aids
Basic Hearing Aid Technology
In some listening conditions, basic digital hearing aids enable the wearer to make manual changes, such as moving a volume control up or down or pressing a button on the aids to minimize noise behind the user. The processing device may divide signals coming into two or more streams, with each channel being processed independently.
To compensate for an individual’s hearing loss, a simple two-channel device could be configured to provide greater amplification for high-frequency sounds than it does for low-frequency ones. Basic hearing aids have minimal modifications for fine-tuning to meet atypical patterns of hearing loss, despite being computer programmed. They’re also less adaptable and automatic than sophisticated hearing aids.
Advanced Hearing Aid Technology
Each prominent hearing aid manufacturer provides multiple degrees of modern digital technology in addition to basic hearing aid technology. Hearing aids are becoming more automatic and feature-rich as technology advances, allowing people to converse more effectively in tough listening conditions. A hearing aid with modern technology, for instance, may well have eight or more streams to segregate sound for analysis instead of two. This divides the signal into increasingly smaller frequencies, allowing for improved signal conditioning resolution.
How Can Hearing Aids Help Hearing Loss?
Typically, a hearing aid technology amplifies the sounds that enter the ear. They’re most commonly given to those who have “sensorineural” hearing loss. The hearing aid’s sound is picked up by the remaining healthy hair cells, which send neurological impulses to the brain through the auditory nerve.
Standard hearing aids are best for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. Because the batteries require greater power, “power” variants are frequently utilized for persons with severe to profound hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Aids
Your level of hearing loss, lifestyle choices, and aesthetic concerns all play a role in determining the best type and design for you. The following are the most prevalent types of hearing aids.
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids:
ITE aids are personalized and worn in the ear canal. They are made from the information and concerns obtained by your hearing care specialist during your hearing aid appointment. To fit in with the outer ear, these styles are usually offered in a variety of skin tones. Some ITE hearing aids are designed to fit deeper within the ear canal, whereas others are designed to fit nearer to the outer ear.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
BTE aids are worn behind or above the ear, with tubes running down into the ear canal via a custom-fit earmold or a domed style that doesn’t completely cover the ear canal opening. BTE styles come in a variety of colors to match your hair or skin color, as well as flashier patterns for a more unique touch.
Will I Hear Better Right Away?
Yes, although it may take some time to become adjusted to your new hearing aids. Hearing experts will do an initial fitting to the feature of the model and modify levels so that you get the most out of your devices.
Hence, if you are planning to use hearing aids, make sure to first consult with your hearing aid professional for further details on your specific needs.
It’s crucial to remember that while using new devices, there’s a period of adjustment, and it requires a while to become acclimated to new hearing aids, even if you have been using hearing aids for a long time.