More than 5% of the world’s population suffers from hearing loss, often due to hereditary factors.
However, experts say that early detection can prevent and improve the condition of patients. Learn here everything about hearing loss and what its early signs are so you don’t overlook them.
Hearing loss, also known as hearing loss or impairment, and often called deafness, is the partial or total inability to hear sounds in one or both ears.
Someone has hearing loss when they are not able to hear as well as a person whose sense of hearing is normal.
A hearing threshold equal to or greater than 25 decibels (dB) in both ears is considered normal. This is a unit used to measure the intensity of sounds.
For example, whispers are at 30 dB, conversations at 60 dB, motorcycles at 95 dB, and ambulance sirens at 120 dB.
Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe, or profound, and affect one or both ears.
Currently, more than 466 million people worldwide suffer from it, although it is expected that by 2050 that figure will rise to 900 million, that is, 1 in 10 people will suffer from hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization ( WHO).
Table of Contents
Causes of hearing loss
We can divide our ear into three main parts: outer, middle, and inner. We are able to hear because sound waves pass through the outer ear and cause vibrations in the eardrum.
The eardrum and three small middle ear bones (ossicles) amplify the vibrations as they travel to the inner ear. There the vibrations pass through the fluid in the cochlea, a snail-shaped structure.
There are thousands of tiny hairs on the neurons in the cochlea that help translate sound vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain, where it ultimately converts them into sound.
Hearing loss is usually classified into three types:
- conductive: when it involves the external or middle ear.
- Sensorineural: when it involves the inner ear.
- mixed: a combination of both.
Hearing loss can be due to many factors. Among the main causes we find:
- Accumulation of wax in the external auditory canal.
- Hole in the eardrum.
- Scar on the eardrum due to repetitive infections.
- Taking certain medications, such as the antibiotic gentamicin, sildenafil (Viagra), and some chemotherapy drugs.
- Damage to the ossicles or their inability to conduct sound correctly.
- The eardrum does not vibrate in response to sound.
- Constant exposure to loud noises.
- hereditary factors.
- Presence of fluid in the ear after an ear infection.
- Presence of a foreign object in the external auditory canal.
- Play sports, especially contact sports.
Hearing loss symptoms
People with hearing loss often have the following symptoms:
- Perceive certain sounds too loud in one or both ears.
- Having trouble following conversations when two or more people are talking.
- Have trouble differentiating high-pitched sounds.
- Feeling dizzy or off balance.
- Feeling pressure in one or both ears.
- Feeling noises or buzzing.
Early signs of hearing loss
You can anticipate the consequences of hearing loss if you identify the first signs early:
- You think that people around you do not speak clearly or gossip.
- You don’t listen to questions and often ask people to repeat what they said.
- You do not hear loud sounds that other people around you can identify, such as doorbells, cell phones, television or alarms.
- To understand a conversation you need to visualize the interlocutor’s face, their expressions and lip movements.
- You have misunderstandings, mainly due to “missing” words that the other person says or confusing them.
- You have trouble hearing when there is background noise, such as music or noise, while other people can understand each other.
- Hearing problems that not only don’t go away, but get worse and interfere with your lifestyle.
- Hearing worse in one ear than the other.
- Sudden severe hearing loss or ringing in the ears.
- Earache or headache, weakness or numbness in any part of the body.
When to consult the doctor
More than half of the cases of hearing loss in children and young people are preventable.
Prevention and detection of this condition is not difficult and early treatments are usually very effective.
If you suffer from any of these signs, do not hesitate to consult your doctor:
Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, World Health Organization.