Do you often find yourself asking people to repeat what they just said? This probably means you’re losing your hearing. While normal in older individuals, the hearing loss epidemic is affecting an increasingly large section of the population. Here are some factors responsible for muted sound:
In a condition known as Presbycusis, inner structures degenerate slowly and unnoticeably over time with increasing age, resulting in tinnitus (ringing of the ears) and irritation from certain sounds, among other common symptoms. High blood pressure, vascular conditions and other heart diseases in the elderly reduce blood supply to the ear and contribute towards hearing loss. According to a recent study, around 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 74 is experiencing hearing loss on some level. This mostly occurs in both ears, impacting both equally and is also normally a gradual loss.
2- Loud Noise:
Excessive, long term exposure to loud noises as an occupational or recreational byproduct, such as construction or factory work and listening to loud music or motorcycling damage the hair cells in the cochlea or cause eardrum perforation, resulting in mild to moderate hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss is also gradual, making it hard to notice at first, but over the years it builds up to a substantial handicap. At first it may only lead to you being unable to understand words in a noisy environment but could eventually become a full blown hearing problem. Furthermore, close proximity to sudden, short blasts of loud noises like gunshots and bomb blasts can cause instant hearing impairment.
Gradual buildup of ear wax can block the air canal and obstruct sound wave conduction that can result in partial hearing loss, which can be cured with earwax removal. If this goes on for too long without any treatment or cleaning it could also lead to an infection which could have more serious consequences. Professional ear cleaning by a Specialist doctor is advised; ear cleaning at home is not recommended.
4- Ear Infections:
The most common cause of impaired hearing in children, ‘Otitis media’ is an inflammation of the middle ear, resulting from infections and fluid buildup in the middle ear. It produces serious long-term defects if left untreated.
High dosage of antimalarial drugs and pain killers such as aspirin can cause tinnitus and temporary hearing loss, whereas gentamicin (an antibiotic) and some chemotherapy drugs can permanently damage the inner ear. Most of these medications only cause hearing loss temporarily and this damage can be reversed if you stop taking it. Consult your doctor if your medication is not working for you or is having such side effects.
A ruptured or collapsed eardrum can result in skin growth or buildup through the hole/rupture in the middle ear over time. This results in middle and, in rare cases, inner ear bone destruction and hearing loss. The only real way to deal with this is to have the cyst in your ear surgically removed. This should be done as soon as possible as the larger the cyst grows, the higher the chances of there being complications and permanent damage.
Skull fractures and other head injuries result in the displacement of the 3 middle ears bones, blocking sound conduction to the inner ear and causing hearing impairment. They may also rupture the eardrum or damage cranial or inner ear nerves. Most times the deafness caused by head trauma disapears six months after the intial incident. Although if the inner ear is damaged, then the effect may be permanent.
8- Birth Defects:
Deformed ears and infections during pregnancy such as rubella (German measles), cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and syphilis can cause hearing loss in newborns, while genetic factors are responsible for 50% of congenital hearing loss cases.
Presence of cancerous or benign tumors such as acoustic neuroma, paraganglioma and meningioma alongside tinnitus and facial numbness or weakness severely damages hearing.
10- Autoimmune Disorders:
Loss of hearing is a common side-effect of Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Wegener’s granulomatosis and other autoimmune diseases. Fever-inducing illnesses like meningitis, measles, mumps and syphilis also cause hearing loss due to cochlear (inner ear) damage. The damage may just happen to one ear at first and then spread to the other later.
Affecting the middle ear, this surgically treatable disease makes movement of the middle ear bones difficult due to their abnormal growth, hindering sound travel in the ear canal and resulting in hearing impairment.
Many of these causative factors can be avoided. Take preventative measures today to ensure a broad audio spectrum in your later years. For any hearing concerns, feel free to book an appointment with a top ENT Specialist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your hearing-related issues.