More than 37 million Americans experience some range of hearing loss. Severe hearing loss can turn the average conversation into whispers and music may only sound like a faint humming noise.
What are the Symptoms of Severe Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss, whether it’s sudden or gradually occurs over time, can make conversations difficult to follow.
In addition to hearing loss, you may also experience:
What are the Degrees of Hearing Loss?
In order to determine the range of your hearing loss, an audiogram may be used during a hearing test. This can show your degree of hearing loss by looking at the range of decibels (dB) - a measurement of sound - that you are able to hear.
1. Conductive hearing loss: caused by an issue in the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear that restricts sound from traveling to the inner ear. This can happen due to an ear infection, fluid build-up, a mass (cholesteatoma), or an object in the ear - like earwax build-up.
2. Sensorineural hearing loss: typically caused by damage done to the inner ear’s hair cells. Other causes may include damage to the auditory nerve which impacts your hearing, or the brain. It normally occurs as you age, or due to excessive exposure to noise, genetic factors, trauma, radiation, or chemotherapy.
3. Mixed hearing loss: this is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. There could be complications in the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, or auditory nerve. This can happen as a result of a serious or even seemingly minor head injury, long-term infection, or genetic disease. Hearing loss can occur in one or both ears. It can be sudden or gradually worsen as you age. If you notice sudden hearing loss, contact us a Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
What causes Severe Hearing Loss?
In normal, healthy hearing, sound waves are harnessed from the outer ear and travel to the eardrum and middle ear bones which then vibrate. The sounds then move to the inner ear through the cochlea (a shell-shaped tube). While the fluid is moving, thousands of tiny hair cells also move and then translate the vibrating sounds into nerve signals. These signals travel to the brain and are converted into detectable sounds.
Hearing loss occurs due to complications in the areas of your ear that allow you to hear. The following conditions can induce severe hearing loss:
Age: Also known as presbycusis, as people age sections of the ear, like so many other areas, become less resilient. When tiny hairs become damaged, it’s permanent. As a result, they cannot respond to sound waves as effortlessly. Without any intervention, hearing loss may worsen over time.
Exposure to Loud Noise: Noises that come from the music blaring through earbuds to power tool noises, or planes, trains, and automobiles can harm the hair cells located in the cochlea. The volume level, plus the length of time you spend hearing the sounds can determine how much hearing you’ll lose. Learn more about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from “9 Facts About Noise-Induced Hearing Loss”.
Ear Infections: These can cause a build-up of fluid in the middle ear. Normally, the hearing loss caused by an ear infection is mild and goes away within a short period of time. If infections are not treated, they could become serious long-term problems.
Perforated Eardrum: An ear infection, exposure to loud sounds, head trauma, or too much ear pressure from flying in an airplane or scuba diving can harm the eardrum. A hole, that may or may not heal, could form. Based on how large the hole is, a person might experience mild to moderate hearing loss.
Cholesteatoma: This is an accumulation of skin in the middle ear that is caused by a collapsed eardrum or when the skin grows and spreads through a hole in the eardrum. Cholesteatomas can develop over time and cause hearing loss by ravaging the middle ear bones or, in rare instances, the inner ear.
Diseases or Infections: Measles, meningitis, mumps, and syphilis are some conditions that can cause hearing loss.
Ménière's Disease: There are some symptoms of this inner ear disorder including dizziness, feelings of fullness in the ear, temporary hearing loss, and tinnitus.
Hearing loss that is associated with Ménière's disease tends to worsen, but only affects one ear.
Tumors: Cancerous or benign tumors can induce hearing loss. This includes acoustic neuroma, paraganglioma, and meningioma. If a patient has a tumor, they may also experience feelings of numbness in their face, weakness, and tinnitus.
An obstruction in the ear caused by an object: When there is a foreign object that is lodged in your ear, it can block out the ability to hear. This may include debris or hardened earwax buildup.
Misshapened ear: Some patients are born with ears that are shaped differently, and may create challenges with hearing.
Trauma: Skull fractures or a punctured eardrum can induce severe hearing loss.
Medications: Certain drugs, such as antibiotics, aspirin, chemotherapy drugs (carboplatin, cisplatin), and large quantities of Vicodin® can cause hearing loss. Sometimes, the hearing will return after you stop taking the drug. In many cases, hearing loss becomes permanent.
Genetic Factors: Scientists have discovered that there are genes that make people more likely to experience hearing loss, especially as they age. In most cases, screenings for newborns find genetic hearing loss, but it can be found later.
Autoimmune Disorders: Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can impact hearing. It is one of the main symptoms of several autoimmune disorders, including Behcet’s disease, Cogan’s syndrome, and Wegener’s granulomatosis.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation. Our specialists will go over your test results and suggest appropriate treatment options. Immediate testing and, in some cases, wearing hearing aids are required to slow down and treat hearing loss.