Hearing impairment can have significant consequences on one of most important sensory organs. In some cases, hearing loss can be triggered by loud noises or infections, but for most, hearing loss is gradual, age-related and only noticeable as it progresses. Fortunately, impaired hearing can be improved, or even fully corrected, with the use of a hearing aid. Find out how.
Hearing loss rarely occurs all of a sudden. It usually develops gradually, over a long period of time – and is therefore imperceptible at first. This is because those affected gradually get used to the onset of hearing loss. Because the brain can compensate for the hearing deficiencies for a long time, there are few disadvantages in everyday life during the first phase.
The cause of hearing loss may be found at various points in our complicated, sensitive ears: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear or even the auditory nerve. Hearing loss is not always age-related. It can also be triggered by loud noises, infections, medications or injuries, or may be hereditary.
Often it is the higher frequencies that are affected first. Because these are important for hearing the so-called voiceless consonants (f, s, p, t), the understanding of speech especially in high background noise is noticed first. Depending on the type of hearing loss, other symptoms may appear, for example tinnitus, noise sensitivity, or dizziness. In almost all cases, hearing loss is permanent, and it is often difficult to predict how it will progress.
In just a single moment, the world sounds quieter in one ear. Listening to voices and music suddenly sounds different – as if you’re wrapped in cotton wool. The phenomenon is called acute hearing loss or sudden sensorineural hearing loss, and should be treated by an ENT doctor as quickly as possible. Although the specific cause is unknown, there are various theories that may explain it.
The basis used is the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, which states that a person with hearing loss of more than 25 decibels (dB) has hearing damage.