Although all five of the human senses are precious, hearing is one of the most vital ones. It is essential for maintaining relationships and connections with loved ones, fully participating in society and experiencing life events. It basically makes it possible for people to engage with others, listen, laugh and enjoy many things that help shape an individual’s quality of life.
However, hearing is a complex process and gradually decreases over time due to many reasons. The saddest part is people often fail to notice something is wrong until they begin to realize that their hearing impairment is affecting their everyday life.
And once it comes to that, they start immediately scheduling hearing evaluations and purchasing hearing devices from reputable brands, such as the high-quality Phonak hearing aid accessories to improve their quality of life and reduce limitations created by hearing loss.
But before you start doing anything else, you should get acquainted with the basics of hearing loss, including its causes, symptoms and the effective ways you can prevent it.
Causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss can be caused due to a number of reasons. The most prominent one is aging, which is commonly known as presbycusis. As people get older, the delicate hair cells in their inner ears start to deteriorate and undergo some changes that contribute to hearing impairment. Some of these include changes in blood flow to the ear, damage in the nerves responsible for hearing and changes in the way that the brain processes speech and sound.
Another major cause of hearing loss is exposure to high levels of noise. Listening to loud bursts can damage cells and membranes in the cochlea and overwork hair cells in the ear, causing them to die.
Other common causes of hearing loss include medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease, middle ear infections and otosclerosis, physical head trauma and medication side effects.
Symptoms of hearing loss
Generally, there are several indicators that you may not be hearing as well as you used to and these include:
- Struggling to understand speech, especially in noisy environments
- Having difficulties hearing people on the phone
- Turning up the TV or radio
- Feeling exhaustion after attending social events
- Ringing in the ears
However, sometimes the symptoms may vary depending on the hearing impairment type you are struggling with as well as the severity of the condition.
For example, with sensorineural hearing loss, you will be most likely having difficulties with how loudly and how clearly you perceive sounds. In other words, volume and clarity levels will be affected. Besides this, you may also find that listening to normal sounds is too soft for you, while loud sounds may really bother you. In audiological terms, this is referred to as recruitment.
Prevention of hearing loss
Although not all types of hearing loss are preventable, there are some precautions you can take to lower the risk of developing a hearing impairment. Here is a brief explanation of a few ways to help you prevent hearing loss.
Avoid loud noises
Avoiding loud noises wherever possible is one effective way of preventing hearing loss. Generally, a noise is considered loud enough if it is above 85 dB in which case you should wear some form of ear protection or distance yourself as much as you can from the source of the loud noise.
Check for ear wax buildup
Checking for ear wax buildup is also very important to lessen or potentially eliminate the effects of hearing loss. While small amounts of it are beneficial in protecting the inside of your ear from infections, a buildup of this yellow substance can cause mild hearing loss and discomfort.
Engaging in physical activities on a regular basis can also help prevent hearing loss. When you exercise, the blood flow to your ears increases and that helps maintain the health of your inner ear hair cells. Therefore, a daily walk to the park or doing some gentle yoga in the living room is strongly recommended.
There is no doubt that hearing is one of the most precious human senses. With it, people are able to connect with the world much easier and live happy and productive lives.
Unfortunately, hearing can decrease over time due to a number of reasons so it is important that you watch out for the first signs before the condition progresses. The sooner you realize something is wrong, the earlier you will be able to get the treatment you need to prevent further development.
For more information about hearing loss, refer back to our guide and learn about the basics of this health condition.