Know the basics
What is hearing disorders?
Hearing disorders, or hearing loss, is a health condition that you gradually lose ability to hear sounds well. There are three types of hearing disorders depending on the part that is affected:
- Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the cells inside the inner ear or the auditory nerve are damaged. It occurs naturally as a result of the aging process or after an injury.
- Conductive hearing is caused by the blockage resulting in the disability for the sound to pass through the outer ear to the inner ear.
- Mixed hearing loss occurs when a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss are damaged at the same time.
How common is hearing disorders?
Hearing disorders are extremely common health condition. It mostly affects the elders. You can learn to manage hearing disorders by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of hearing disorders?
The common symptoms of hearing disorders are:
- Difficulty in hearing and understanding words especially in noisy places;
- Difficulty hearing consonants;
- Usually asking people to repeat what they just said;
- Listening to the radio or watching TV with a very high volume;
- Unable to detect the direction of noise;
- Trouble catching up in a conversation.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- You notice sudden loss of hearing ability.
- You cannot understand the whole story in a conversation.
- You find that sounds are getting muffled.
- You need to turn up the volume when watching TV or listening to music.
Know the causes
What causes hearing disorders?
Many reasons can cause hearing disorder. Some more common reasons are:
- Aging and exposure to loud noise can cause damage to the hairs or nerve cells sending sound signals to the brain. Once the signals are not transmitted completely, your hearing ability will decrease. You may experience muffling sounds and detectable single word in a noisy condition.
- Excess earwax in the eye can block the ear canal and the moving of sound waves.
- Ear infection or abnormal bone growths or tumors that happen.
- Ruptured eardrum caused by too loud noises, sudden pressure change or poking eardrum with an object can affect your hearing ability.
- Inherit factors or a genetic disease.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for hearing disorders?
There are many risk factors for hearing disorders, including:
- Exposure to noise;
- Inherit factors;
- Working in a noisy condition;
- Using some antibiotic gentamicin or other chemotherapy drugs can affect the inner ear. Your temporary hearing ability will be damaged by the very high dose of aspirin, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
- Certain health problems associated with fever such as meningitis can harm the cochlea.
- Aging: as we get older, the structure of inner ear is weakened causing hearing disorders.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is hearing disorders diagnosed?
Your doctor will first ask about your symptoms, when your symptoms begin and if you are exposed to any loud noise recently. They might also ask about your home and work environment to find the source of noise that might cause hearing loss. Some tests can be done to point out the exact damaged part of the ears for the right treatment.
- Physical exam: your doctor will have a look inside your ear to detect the causes such as earwax or infection.
- Screening test: doctor will ask you to cover one ear and test for your hearing abilities as well as the reactions of your ear to sounds.
- Tuning fork tests: they use a tuning fork to detect the hearing disorders, then your nerve or any parts in the ear that are damaged will be found.
- Audiometry tests: you will wear earphones and hear a range of sounds in different tones and the doctor may ask you to point out a certain sound.
How is hearing disorders treated?
Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, your doctor might suggest suitable treatment. Treatment can simply be getting earwax removed to prevent blockage. If you have more severe damage to the ears, your doctor might suggest:
- Surgery is necessary if you have severe hearing disorders and infections.
- Hearing aids will help you to recognize and hear sounds more easily.
- Cochlear implant is also a treatment for severe cases to make up for the damaged parts in your inner ear.
You should consult with your doctor before using this device as there might be some risks related to ears, nose and throat problems.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hearing disorders?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hearing disorders:
- Putting yourself in a good condition during conversation, face the one you are talking to, or turn off other noises that can affect the conversation.
- If you miss any words, do not hesitate to ask them to repeat clearly and loudly.
- Using a supporting device can help you with your hearing disorders.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Hearing loss. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/basics/coping-support/con-20027684. Accessed July 22, 2016.
Hearing loss. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hearing-impairment/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx. Accessed July 22, 2016.
Hearing loss. http://www.hearingloss.org/content/types-causes-and-treatment. Accessed July 30, 2016.