Disabling hearing loss affects 360 million people worldwide. It may be inherited, caused by complications at birth, infectious diseases or the use of certain drugs. Hearing loss can also result from chronic ear infections, exposure to excessive noise and ageing.
Read on to learn more about the causes of hearing loss and deafness. If you are concerned that you might have hearing problems, included is an outline of the signs and symptoms of hearing problems, so that you can spot the early signs of hearing loss when treatment is more effective.
As half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented, contained in this section are steps that can help reduce your risk of developing hearing loss. You will also find information about how hearing loss is diagnosed, which may involve general screening tests, tuning fork tests and audiometer tests conducted by an audiologist.
Treatment for hearing problems depend on the cause and severity of your hearing loss. Read more about possible treatments and management strategies such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and the medications available.
While hearing loss is sometimes sudden, it is often gradual and may be unnoticeable at first. It's important to spot the early signs of hearing loss because treatment is often more beneficial if started early. General signs of hearing loss can include:
It is common to recognise signs of hearing loss in someone else, before they notice it themselves.
Schedule your child in for a hearing test if you notice that he or she:
A person who does not have hearing thresholds of 25 decibels or better in both ears is said to have hearing loss. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Hearing loss can occur because of damage or disruption to any part of the hearing system from simple wax blocking the ear canals, through to age-related changes to the sensory cells of the cochlea.
Those with mild to moderate hearing loss may find it hard to follow speech, especially in noisy settings. People with severe hearing loss often rely on lip-reading and may benefit from cochlear implants. Deaf people mostly have profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing. They often use sign language for communication.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) , common causes of hearing loss and deafness in adults include:
Common causes of deafness in children include:
If you are concerned that you may have hearing loss, see your doctor for an examination. Typically, your doctor will ask about your family history of hearing loss, and whether you have been exposed to persistent loud noise, ear infections or head injuries. Your physical tests can include:
Treatment for hearing problems depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss. Possible treatments and management strategies include hearing aids, cochlear implants, special training, certain medications, surgery or removing wax blockages.
The ears are fragile structures that may be damaged in many ways, so it is not always possible to prevent hearing loss. However, half of all cases of hearing loss and deafness are avoidable and can be prevented, according to the World Health Organization . To reduce the risk of hearing loss and deafness, follow the steps below: