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Hearing Loss

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss is normally due to damaged hair cells in the cochlea. As we grow older, hair cells lose some of their function, and hearing deteriorates. In other cases, hearing loss can arise from brain damage, genetic disposition, or prolonged exposure to excessively loud noise.

What kinds of hearing loss are there?

There are three types of hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear, or the auditory nerve is damaged. It is the most common type of hearing loss and is, in a majority of cases, permanent.

Conductive hearing loss arises when sounds are unable to pass from the outer ear to the inner ear, which can be caused by a blockage such as earwax or damage to the eardrum or ossicular bones. It is in many cases temporary and can be treated medically.

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Mixed hearing loss is when both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss occur in the same ear. Treatment for the conductive component can help alleviate the degree of the hearing loss but the underlying sensorineural hearing loss will remain.

What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss?

Because most cases of hearing loss develop gradually, the symptoms are often difficult to self-diagnose. Some signs pointing to hearing loss include:

  • Frequently asking to speak up or to repeat themselves
  • Regularly turning up the volume of the television or radio
  • Difficulty following conversations between two or more people
  • Experiencing sounds as muffles or mumbles
  • Difficulty listening in noisy situations
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Lip reading and Watching other people’s faces when they speak