Hearing loss is much more prevalent than one would originally imagine. Age is one of the biggest factors, as our hearing deteriorates as we get older. Others can be due to exposure to sound at unhealthy levels, trauma, sickness or through drug use. It’s also a part of the body that we inadvertently push to the side because of how much we take it for granted. Think for a moment about how much you actually use your hearing in your day to day life. Waking up to your alarm clock, watching the morning news, listening to your podcast on the way to work, talking to customers on the phone, the list is endless. Prevention is key, but also understanding what kinds of hearing loss is even more vital. The following will go over the various forms that do exist in order to understand what you can do to prevent them and preserve your hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss is one of three types that we’ll go over. This when there is something in your outer or middle ear that is stopping sound from coming in. Think about is like when you have food in your sink or hair clogging up your shower. A more specific example would be wax buildup in your actual ear canal. Sometimes you can have an impaction of fluid in the middle part of your ear. If not treated, this can turn into an ear infection which is whole other barrel of mess to deal with. Depending on the age of the child, toddlers learn by interacting and sometimes the results aren’t the best. Depending on how curious the child is, they may inadvertently put a small object into their ear thereby inducing some form of hearing loss. This should obviously be treated immediately. Some form of deformity could also be present that is causing the hearing loss. Whether it’s a hole in the eardrum, or how the ear is actually formed at birth can cause function issues later in life.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
So while conductive hearing loss is damage mostly caused to the outer or middle ear, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is the result of what happens when damage occurs specifically to the inner ear. To go more in depth, the reason the issue exists in the first place is because there’s nerves that are damaged that are sending messages to your brain. Your ears are one of the most sensitive and ultimately vulnerable parts of your body. SNHL unfortunately isn’t something that can usually be fixed with medicine or surgery. The only thing that can truly assist your hearing once diagnosed, would be some form of hearing aid device. The largest cause of SNHL is exposure to dangerous levels of sound. This can be more specifically defined as loud music, gunfire, and/or explosions.
Inside your inner ear lays the cochlea which has tiny hairs that pick up the vibrations from sound waves. These hairs then interpret it as sounds to your brain. Such loud sound or explosions can cause irreparable damage to these hairs. Once the damage has been done, they cannot grow back and are nonregenerative. If you know you’re going to place yourself in these situations ahead of time, bring the necessary protective equipment along, your hearing will thank you in the long run.
Mixed Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is fairly self explanatory. It happens when both conductive hearing loss and SNHL occur at the same time. As an example if you already work in loud environments and have an ear infection at the same time, this is what would be called mixed hearing loss.
It sounds obvious, but wear quality hearing protection whenever possible. If that means shoving some ear plugs in your pocket, then so be it. Hearing loss is not something to be taken lightly, especially when there’s proven and simple methods out there. The fact is we’ve been groomed to believe that hearing loss is normal and part of life. No, it’s because many people don’t want to take the necessary steps in order to assist the sustainment of their hearing. With that being said, regardless of the steps taken your hearing will naturally deteriorate with age. That doesn’t mean you should aid in the process faster though. Your hearing is unique to you and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Start making the safety of your hearing a priority. If possible, start stashing some money aside in order to go out and purchase some quality protection for your ears. If you have some form of hearing loss already, go to a professional to get it checked out and see what form of hearing loss you may already have. Putting it off or ignoring it entirely isn’t going to fix anything. As mentioned above, your hearing is your responsibility. Take the steps today in order to secure a more pleasant lifestyle for tomorrow.