Hearing loss is more prevalent than you think in modern America. Many times it remains undiagnosed due to the individual feeling embarrassed as well as the stigma that surrounds it. It can occur through various circumstances, but the two most prevalent are either through old age or from being around loud machinery or loud explosions. Your hearing is one of the most peculiar and sensitive areas of the body. It’s also the most vulnerable due to the majority of people not being proactive and taking the necessary steps in order to protect their hearing. Who would think about packing ear plugs with them everywhere they go? It’s just not feasible. Our hearing was originally developed and used for hunting as well as an early warning system to let us know that a predator may be near. As the years progressed, so did the technology we surrounded ourselves with. Unfortunately, many of those pieces of machinery grew to excessive decibels and for whatever reason, our hearing never evolved along with modern technology. Therefore even to this day, if you are around a job site with excessively loud machines and tools or have been around explosions or gunfire without hearing protection you more than likely have hearing loss already. But we can just get it back right? Hearing is regenerative isn’t it? No it is not, and the following will explain why as well as what you can do in the meantime to keep the hearing you do have safe.
To better understand what’s going on, your ear is broken up into three pieces. Your outer, middle and inner ear is how the human ear is built. Depending on the type of hearing loss, it will affect different parts of the ear. Conductive hearing loss is when there are issues with the middle ear, more specifically the ear canal or ear drum. Sensorineural hearing loss is from some form of a traumatic injury to the inner ear. This is also known as nerve-related hearing loss. Within each type of hearing loss, there are ways as to which they can each occur.
With conductive hearing loss, sometimes there is a deformity of the ear canal, failure of the ear canal to open, or a major issue with the middle ear. If neither of these can be fixed through surgeries, than the only other possible solution would be some form of aftermarket hearing aid. Other forms can occur with infections, tumors, or blunt force trauma. The former can be treated with antibiotics, while the remainder would need some form of surgery to fix the hearing. Osteosclerosis is inadvertently a form of conductive hearing loss as well, this can be fixed through surgery too.
Sensorineural hearing loss mostly occurs with excessive trauma to either the head itself or the ears. Inside your inner ear rests the cochlea, it’s a shell typed piece that collects the vibration of sounds. Inside of the cochlea rests these tiny little hairs called stereocilia. This is what actually picks up the sound vibrations and interprets them in your brain for you. Once these hairs become damaged from loud, catastrophic sound levels. They are irreplaceable and cannot grow back. This is where hearing aids or cochlear implants would come into play. Meniere’s disease is also a culprit of this form of hearing loss and can also cause tinnitus. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the aforementioned, and can be taken care of if the conductive component is isolated and taken care of first.
Prevention is Key
Beyond the facts of the dreaded facts of hearing loss, there is still hope. We are not all doomed to one day wake up and be deaf. The idea is that you must wear the proper hearing protection when and wherever you can. Unfortunately, a majority of people are lazy or don’t want to be judged by others for wearing ear pro when others may not think it’s even necessary. Regardless of your job, lifestyle, or hobby thinking of how your hearing will be effected is vital. Are you constantly putting yourself around loud machinery? How often do you spend on your ATV unprotected? How many times do you go to rock concerts? These may sound silly as they’re frequent things we do, but loud, abrasive decibels don’t care about how common it is. If you aren’t taking the proper steps, your hearing will pay for it.