Hearing loss

Last updated date: 19-Aug-2023

Originally Written in English

Hearing loss

It can be difficult to follow, understand, or even engage in conversations if you have hearing loss. You might also find it challenging to understand what people are saying on TV or the phone. Besides, you could miss out on the soothing, lovely sounds of nature. 

Generally, hearing loss can interfere with your capacity to work and even enjoy your full life. It can occur in some people as they get older, although it may impact anyone. Hearing loss can as well affect some newborns (congenital hearing loss). Luckily, particular types of hearing loss can be treated and even prevented. 


How Hearing Works 

The outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear are the three primary sections of the ear. Hearing thus starts when the sound waves travel from the outer ear towards the eardrum, a tiny piece of skin that connects the outer and middle ear. The eardrum normally vibrates as the sound waves arrive at it. 

The ossicles are the three bones that make up the middle ear. They consist of the anvil, hammer, and stirrup. As sound waves move towards the inner ear, the eardrum and the ossicles function together, increasing the vibrations.  

Sound waves pass through the fluids of the cochlea to get to the inner ear. The inner ear's cochlea is a snail-shaped structure. There are thousands of tiny hairs linked to nerve cells in the cochlea. These hairs assist in the conversion of sound wave vibrations to electric signals, which are then transmitted to the brain. 

These electrical signals are translated into sound by the brain. Varied sound vibrations cause different reactions in the small hairs, notifying your brain with varying noises and sounds.  


Types of Hearing Loss

The following are the three types of hearing loss; 

Conductive hearing loss:

This indicates that vibrations are not traveling from the outer towards the inner ear, particularly the cochlea. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such

  • An accumulation of earwax in excess
  • An infection in the ear characterized by inflammation and fluid collection
  • Glue ear 
  • A perforated eardrum
  • The ossicles aren't working properly
  • A flawed eardrum

Scar tissue can form as a result of ear infections, which can impair eardrum function. Trauma, infection, or combining in disorder called ankylosis can cause ossicles damage or impairment. 

Sensorineural hearing loss:

Hearing loss can occur due to inner ear malfunction, as well as auditory nerve, cochlea, or brain damage. Cochlea’s damaged hair cells are usually the cause of this type of hearing loss. Hair cells tend to lose their standard function as people age, while the hearing gets worse as well. 

Another major cause of hair cell destruction is prolonged exposure to extreme noises, particularly high-frequency sounds. Hair cells that have been damaged are irreplaceable. At present, scientists are investigating the use of stem cells to generate new hair cells.

Congenital abnormalities, inner ear infections, and head trauma can all cause sensorineural complete deafness. 

Mixed hearing loss:

This is a hearing loss that is both conductive and sensorineural. Ear infections that last for a long time can affect both the eardrum and the ossicles. The surgical technique can help correct hearing in some cases, although it’s not often successful. 


Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The common signs and symptoms of hearing loss can include; 

  • Speech and other sounds muffling 
  • Trouble when it comes to understanding words, particularly when there is background noise or when there is a crowd.
  • Difficulty hearing consonants. 
  • Regularly requesting people to talk more slowly, loudly, and clearly
  • Turning up the volume on the radio or television
  • Exclusion from talks
  • Evasion of certain social situations
  • Having tinnitus (ringing inside the ears), pain, a sensation of fluid, or inner ear pressure

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss in children can manifest in the following ways:

  • Not easily startled by loud noises.
  • When you pronounce the child's name, he or she doesn’t turn the head toward the sound (happens after that baby is six months of age).
  • Some noises elicit a response, but not all.
  • Frequently uttering the phrase "huh?"
  • Delays in speech


Causes of Hearing Loss 

Causes of Hearing Loss 

The common cause of hearing loss is loud noises. This exposure can be rapid and brief at times. Sometimes, hearing loss can occur when you attend a loud concert or are in close proximity to a gunshot.

Most professions get affected by long-term exposure to noise. The most vulnerable include construction workers, farmers, musicians, and military personnel. In the world, occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related ailment. 

Additional risk factors that might increase your chances of developing hearing loss are; 

  • Congenital disorders, including cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • High blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease (heart disease), and strokes
  • Trauma or damage due to an injury or accident, or something simple like putting a cotton swab too far inside the ear. 
  • Ear infections, earwax accumulation, or a rupture in the eardrum
  • Diabetes
  • Chemical exposure 
  • Hearing loss that runs in the family.
  • Anti-cancer, heart disease, and anti-infection medications.
  • Tumors or cancerous growths on the body (acoustic neuroma).


Hearing Loss Diagnosis

Consult your physician or ENT specialist if you suspect a problem with your hearing. To further the issue, your doctor will speak with you and ask a series of questions about the symptoms. It can also include when the symptoms first appeared, whether they have worsened and if you are experiencing discomfort in addition to hearing loss.

Hearing loss tests and diagnostic procedures can include; 

  • Physical examination

During the physical exam, the ENT specialist will examine the ear for any potential triggers of hearing loss, including earwax or infection-related inflammation. He or she will also check for any structural issues that are causing the hearing loss. 

  • General screening exams

Your physician may perform a whisper test on you. It involves covering one ear at a time to check how well you listen to words spoken at different volumes and respond to certain sounds. Its precision may be restricted. 

  • Tuning fork test (the Rinne test)

A tuning fork, which is a metal device attached to two prongs, generates a sound when struck. A simple tuning fork test can assist the doctor figure out if you have hearing loss as well as where it is coming from.

  • App-based hearing tests 

There are mobile apps available that you can use on the tablet or phone to screen for mild hearing loss on your own. 

  • Audiometer tests

This test involves wearing earphones to allow the audiologist to hear sounds and words directed to one ear. To identify the quietest sound you can listen to, every tone is repeated at low and different levels. 


Hearing Loss Treatment 

Individuals with all kinds of hearing loss can get assistance. Treatment is determined by the cause as well as the severity of the condition. The following are the common hearing loss treatment options; 

  • Hearing aids

Hearing aids

A hearing aid can help if your hearing loss is caused by damage or injury to the inner ear. An audiologist will talk to you about the advantages of wearing a hearing aid and help fit you with one. Because of the fit and features available, open fit aids are the most common at present. 

  • Getting rid of a wax obstruction

Hearing loss can occur due to earwax blockage, which is reversible. The physician can suggest removing the earwax with suction or small equipment attached to a loop at the tip. 

  • Surgery 

Certain forms of hearing loss, such as anomalies of the eardrum or hearing bones (ossicles), can be corrected with a surgical procedure. The doctor can place tiny tubes to allow the ears to drain if you have suffered repeated infections and had constant fluid. 

  • Cochlear implants

A cochlear implant could be an alternative if you have extreme hearing loss and find that traditional hearing aids are ineffective. A hearing aid amplifies sound and guides it into the ear canal. However, the cochlear implant bypass through the damaged or non-functioning inner ear parts, stimulating the hearing nerve directly. 

  • Medications 

Antibiotics may help to improve hearing loss that occurs from ear infections. Also, after being exposed to extreme noise, corticosteroids can help alleviate the cochlear hair cells swelling. If the medications are triggering your hearing loss, the doctor may recommend an alternative prescription. 


Complications of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has been found to have a significant effect on the mental health and quality of life of the patient. You may have trouble comprehending others if you have hearing loss. This can make you feel more anxious or even depressed. 

Fortunately, a hearing loss cure can make a huge difference in your life. Besides, it may boost your self-esteem and improve your capacity to communicate with others.



Going through life while missing out on talks or hearing muffled noises can be stressful and upsetting. Many people suffer from hearing loss. However, you should not be ashamed to seek assistance. 

Your healthcare professional can help you figure out the best method to enhance your hearing. This will enable you to hear what's going on around you once again.