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Hearing loss, also referred to as hearing impairment, is condition induced by poor or limited hearing ability. This condition makes it difficult to understand sounds, especially with lower frequencies. Several factors contribute to the development of hearing loss. Aging is the most common cause. Loss of hearing is a natural circumstance that often occurs as people age. Our hearing ability starts to deteriorate between the age of 40 and above, and by the age of 80s, half of us suffers from a significant hearing loss. There is no cure for hearing loss, although there are treatment options available for managing this condition. Typically, hearing aid devices are, in most cases, used to treat hearing impairment.
Too much exposure to noise is another major contributor to hearing loss. The sources of noise can be from our place of work, or voluntarily exposure to loud sounds such as in noisy motors or too loud music in discos, concerts and night clubs. Hearing loss can occur because of other factors, such as:
- Upper respiratory infections
- Tumor in the head
- Use of tobacco and alcohol
- Genetic factors
- Perforated eardrum
- Certain medications and drugs
Prevalence and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is relatively widespread. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every six persons experiences hearing loss of more than 25dB. This representation signifies that about 16-17 percent of all the adult has some sort of hearing loss. According to numerous studies conducted in the USA and Europe, 10 percent of the respondents believed they have a hearing impairment. The difference between the two studies is that not everyone with hearing loss is always aware of it. As you grow old, the higher your chances of experiencing hearing loss become.
In most cases, symptoms of hearing impairment develop gradually, and often it becomes difficult to recognize them in the initial stage. The following are the common signs and symptoms of hearing impairment:
- Aching ears or feeling pressure inside
- Difficulty in understanding speeches, especially from low frequencies.
- Need for increased volume to clearly understand what is being said.
- Loss of directionality of sound
- Muffled speech or other sounds
- Avoidance of some social settings
If you experience the above signs, you should contact your health care professional for a hearing test.
Injuries Contributed by Hearing Loss
According to a study conducted in the US suggested that people with the hearing problem are always twice likely to experience accidental damage compared to individuals with healthy hearing.
From 2007 to 2015, a group of researchers recruited approximately 270,000 people across the country. Among other things, researched asked the respondents how they would rate their hearing loss and whether any one of them could have suffered an accident injury in between the past three months. Based on the results, it was found that about 6.6 million people out of 232.3 million experienced accidental injuries each year. Accidental injuries are among the leading cause of disabilities and death in the US.
Treating Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids
There are several treatment interventions for managing hearing loss. The type of hearing treatment depends on the severity and the causative agent. Antibiotics, surgery, and implants are some of the options available. Hearing aids are a common treatment option recommended.
There are many types of hearing aids among them being:
- Hearing aids inserted behind the ear – these are the most common hearing devices that go around the top and the back of the ear.
- Hearing aids inserted in the ear canal – they are small in size to fit a bit further into the opening of the ear.
- Hearings aids inserted in the ear – they are also small in size to fit in the opening of the ear.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
There are numerous benefits that come with better hearing. Among them include financial benefits, cognitive benefits, social benefits, and emotional benefits. In addition, a person with normal hearing is less likely to experience accidents and injuries compared to those with hearing loss.
Hearing is a specialized organ, and as the prime of its sensory functions is to send warning alerts to the body. When people experience hearing loss, they become less likely to hear a warning or alarming sign of danger. For instance, they might not hear a horn of a car coming behind them or someone yelling to them to be cautious of incoming threats. It is, therefore, crucial for people to go regular hearing check-ups and those diagnosed with hearing a loss to appreciate the condition and adhere to prescribed treatment.