The hearing is one of the five senses that you or anyone else rely on for communication and a whole host of other things. Among the five senses, touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight, it is often hearing, which is the most easily affected. You don't have to be a senior citizen to experience hearing loss as it is quite common among younger people as well. This problem is also getting widespread with each passing day.
Before coping with hearing loss, the first job is to detect it-
If you have a hunch that you or any of your loved ones is suffering from hearing loss, it is important that you get it diagnosed. Some of the common symptoms of hearing loss will be:
Although this condition tends to affect senior citizens, an increasing trend shows younger people i.e. people mostly in their 40 and 50s and even younger than that suffer from this condition.
How to deal with hearing loss?
Some of the options to deal with hearing loss are mentioned below.
SSHL is not like any other normal hear-loss trouble. Rather it is quite a severe condition. Sudden deafness can occur at any time due to several reasons. This trouble does not affect both the ears rather only one specific ear is usually affected, and thus this is one of the prominent signs that can help the doctors to understand that SSHL has occurred.
What are the leading causes of this hearing loss?
- Head injury: If you have faced any severe kind of head injury ever, then it might bring SSHL. This is why you are suggested to get necessary treatment on time so that this kind of hearing loss can be avoided.
- Loud-noise exposure: If your ears are exposed to louder noises or sounds in a consistent manner, then there is a greater possibility of the occurrence of this hearing loss. Thus, you should stay away from unwanted noises.
- Ageing: With the increase in age, hearing power slowly decreases. However, if you take proper precautions from the very beginning, then SSHL can be definitely avoided.
- Blood-circulation troubles: Interrupted blood-circulation creates different physical troubles out of which hearing loss is one of the most prominent ones. And if timely treatment is not provided, then it might get converted into SSHL.
- Ototoxic medication: This kind of medication should not be continued for long without doctor's prescription otherwise SSHL might occur.
How to evaluate this hearing loss?
- History analysis: The history of the patient needs to be known first otherwise SSHL cannot be perfectly treated. If the history shows that the patient already has existing trouble of ear loss for which SSHL has been proven, then in accordance with the same the treatment can be prescribed.
- Laboratory and imaging: Laboratory analysis is one of the main methods for evaluating SSHL and necessary images of the ears boost the potentiality and importance of this kind of analysis to a great extent.
- Quick evaluation: This kind of medical evaluation is mainly made on the basis of the symptoms. The doctors often follow the signs thoroughly in order to determine as to whether the patients have SSHL or not. This evaluation is highly supported by different medical tests that are prescribed by the doctor.
Sound is what we hear when vibrations from the source travel through the air and reach our ears. On the contrary, noise is what we describe as ‘unwanted sound’. This unwanted noise is a major cause of hearing loss in children and adults alike.
Too much exposure to loud noises – busy streets, noisy workplaces, loud recreational events, and industrial factories – cause severe damage to the delicate ear nerves, leading to permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
What is Noise-induced Hearing Loss?
In order to understand the mechanism of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), one needs to understand how the normal process of hearing works.
Sound waves entering the outer ear and travelling through the ear canal, reaches the eardrum, which sends vibrations to the three ear ossicles – stapes, incus, and malleus. The ossicles intensify and transmit the sound through vibrations to the fluid within the cochlea. The fluids present within the cochlea then bends the small hair cell receptors and trigger electrical signals to the auditory nerves. The brain converts these signals into sounds we perceive.
When the sound is too loud to handle, the vibrations become larger and causes the fluid motion inside the cochlea to break. Once the cochlear hair cells are damaged, they are unable to activate signals to the brain, which eventually impedes hearing.
What causes NIHL? Who are at risk?
People working in mines, agricultural fields, construction sites, military force, and similar fields are usually at greater risk of Noise-induced Hearing Loss. This is because they are exposed to excessively loud noise throughout the day. Tractors, orchard sprayers, explosives – these produce noise beyond the normal limit, which is 20 – 2000 Hz.
Certain things we do for fun – listening to loud music for long with headphones on or earphones plugged in, going to rock concerts or similar events, shooting – can also cause Noise-induced Hearing Loss.
Warning Signs to Look Out For:
A single incidence of excessively loud noise has the potential of creating a sudden instance of NIHL. However, the damage progresses gradually in most cases and exhibits the following symptoms -
• Sounds become muffled or distorted
• You can hear people but are unable to understand what they are saying
• You are not able to understand or hear from a distance of 3 feet
• You have this constant urge to increase the volume of your Television or Music system
You may not be able to identify the warning signs initially, or you might be hoping that the symptoms will disappear on their own. Nevertheless, if you have ever encountered these signs, then you should get your ears checked by a specialist at the soonest.
How to Prevent NIHL from Getting Worse?
Noise-induced Hearing Loss is preventable. If you adopt a few precautionary measures, you should be able to protect your ears in noisy surroundings and continue listening to your favourite sounds.
• Wear Disposable Earplugs - These earplugs come in various sizes and can reduce the noise levels effectively by 15-30 decibels. Whether it is a live concert, a shooting game, or a usual working day in the factory, you can just plug in these to completely block the ear canals, thereby restricting loud noise from doing further damage to the ears. You will get these at a drug store, or you can get it custom-made to fit in your ears from a healthcare clinic.
• Wear Earmuffs - These cover the ears completely and seal noise from entering the ear canal. You can pair these with earplugs to reduce the noise levels further.
• Follow the 60/60 Rule - While listening to music on a personal audio device, make sure you do not exceed the volume beyond 60%. Also, ensure that you are not listening to loud music for more than an hour each day. If you are listening to songs on your Smartphone, set the volume cap at 60%.
• Choose Over-the-ear Headphones - In-ear headphones sit very close to the eardrums and are hence more dangerous than Over-the-ear headphones.
• Replace Old Noisy Machine Parts - This holds true for people working in factories and construction sites. Old machine parts produce more noise than the new ones. It is advisable that you replace rusty, noisy machine parts or at least lubricate them frequently to reduce friction and reduce noise.
Once you are aware of the hazards of noise, you should be mindful and take actions accordingly.