Hearing Loss And Deafness: Normal Hearing And Impaired Hearing
The actual organ of hearing is the cochlea in the inner ear. The cochlea receives sound waves and passes them on to the brain. This works smoothly in people with normal hearing.
The ears receive sound waves and change them into signals which are sent along nerves to the brain. The brain then analyzes the signals, recognizes them as sounds and interprets them: as soft music, for instance, or as loud honking or human voices.
Sound waves are created when an object moves, for example when a guitar string or loudspeaker membrane vibrates. Whether we hear a sound depends both on the power of the sound as well as on the frequency of the vibration.
How Those With Hearing Loss Experience Loud Noise
Millions of people have hearing loss, and that the odds that you will be affected increase as you age.
The sounds that people with perfect hearing hear arent just a single sound. They are an orchestra of sounds at various frequencies.
Hearing loss typically happens in stages. High-frequency hearing is the first to go. As you lose the ability to hear high-frequency sounds, you only hear part of the sound.
This can make some loud sounds seem even louder and more annoying because they lack the beautiful complexity that healthy ears normally appreciate and take for granted.
Can I Prevent Age
At this time, scientists don’t know how to prevent age-related hearing loss. However, you can protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss by protecting your ears from sounds that are too loud and last too long. It’s important to be aware of potential sources of damaging noises, such as loud music, firearms, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers. Avoiding loud noises, reducing the amount of time you’re exposed to loud noise, and protecting your ears with ear plugs or ear muffs are easy things you can do to protect your hearing and limit the amount of hearing you might lose as you get older.
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Does Alcohol Cause Hearing Loss
You might have read somewhere that drinking can actually lead to hearing loss. While thats an exaggeration in most cases , alcohol does have some well-documented effects on the human brain, and these can have an impact on peoples hearing.
When you drink regularly over long periods, alcohol damages the part of your brain that processes auditory signals . This was studied by a team of researchers at Germanys University of Ulm. When they measured the strength of brainstem auditory evoked potentials in people who recorded different alcohol intake levels, the results were, well, sobering.
The latency i.e. the speed of response, of heavy drinkers was found to correlate with poor hearing, indicating that drinking definitely does have dangerous consequences for the brainstem.
The question is what amount of drinking is safe, and what causes irreversible hearing loss. The Ulm researchers had nothing to say here, and were still a little unsure. Some say that regular alcohol intake has effects that build up over time, while others see heavy binge drinking as the culprit. But whats certain is that alcohol and hearing loss do go together.
The Role Of Headphones
Headphones cause damage to your ears the same way other loud noises do, resulting in what audiologists call noise-induced hearing loss. Over time the sounds from your headphones cause the hair cells in the cochlea to bend down too much or too severely. If they dont get time to recover, the damage can be permanent.
However, headphones dont have to be extremely loud to damage your ears. Even listening to headphones or earbuds at a moderate volume can damage your hearing over time. Thats because your ears are not just damaged by the loudness of a noise, but by the length of exposure as well. Thats the same reason going to a concert or using loud power tools can damage your ears as much as a much louder gunshot or explosion. The duration of the exposure matters just as much as the volume.
Data via cdc.gov
As you can see, louder noises cause hearing damage much faster than quieter ones, but quiet ones can still cause damage over time. For instance, a 90 decibel noise about the same as a loud motorcycle approximately 30 feet away causes hearing damage in under 3 hours. A sound of about 105 dB similar to a gas lawnmower or other power tools can damage your hearing in less than 5 minutes.
What about headphones? Unfortunately that question isnt easy to answer because . The loudness of your headphones is based on the volume youve set your phone or device to as well as the type and make of headphone you use.
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Normal Hearing: No More Than 25 Decibels Of Hearing Loss
Most adults have normal hearing. If you do, this means that you can hear the things that youâd expect to hear, like your friends talking to you, as well as quiet sounds, like someone whispering to you from a few feet away.
With normal hearing, you can hear these sounds, which people with any degree of hearing loss canât hear:
- People breathing
- Leaves rustling in the wind
Hearing And Cognitive Health
Studies have shown that older adults with hearing loss have a greater risk of developing dementia than older adults with normal hearing. Cognitive abilities decline faster in older adults with hearing loss than in older adults with normal hearing. Treating hearing problems may be important for cognitive health. See Whats the Connection Between Hearing and Cognitive Health?
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How Does The Va Qualify Eligibility For Hearing Loss
Hearing issues are very common in the United States, especially among older adults.
Tragically, retirees and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces traditionally start dealing with hearing loss at a far younger age compared to civilians.
In fact, the VA recently described hearing problems like tinnitus as the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.
The goal of any VA disability claim is to link the medical condition with a service connection.
In other words, the patient struggling with hearing loss must prove to the VA that the medical condition started or worsen during their time in service in order to receive disability benefits.
Otherwise, the military is not considered at fault for your injuries and therefore you may not receive any form of VA disability.
While VA rating percentages are subject to change, here are some current examples of how you may qualify for VA disability coverage:
- Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media
- Chronic Otitis Externa
- Peripheral Vestibular Disorders
- Loss of Ear
- Menieres Syndrome
- Malignant Neoplasm
Sadly, the U.S. Armed Forces currently do not currently observe Tympanic Membrane Perforation, or a perforated ear, as a hearing impairment.
As a result, patients receive a 0% rating for this medical condition.
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Degrees Of Hearing Impairment
To find out how impaired your hearing is, your doctor may order a formal hearing test also known as an audiogram. It can show the degree of your hearing loss by looking at the range of decibels — a measure of loudness — you can hear.
- Normal hearing is in the range of 0 to 20 decibels. People with normal hearing are able to make out sounds as faint as human breathing, which measures about 10 decibels.
- Mild hearing loss ranges from 21 to 40 decibels.
- Moderate hearing loss ranges from 41 to 55 decibels.
- Moderately severe hearing loss ranges from 56 to 70 decibels.
- Severe hearing loss is in the range of 71 to 90 decibels.
- Profound hearing loss is greater than 90 decibels. People with severe to profound hearing loss will have trouble hearing speech, although they can make out loud sounds like a truck that backfires or an airplane taking off.
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Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented
Most types of hearing loss are permanent, so its important to prevent hearing loss before it occurs. If you do have damage to your hearing, you can still try to stop it from getting worse.
The best way to protect your hearing is to limit your exposure to loud noises. That means both loud noises on individual occasions, and over the course of your lifetime.
To prevent damage to your hearing:
- keep your music, TV and radio down you should be able to easily talk to someone 2 metres away
- at clubs, live music and other loud events, wear earplugs, take frequent breaks and give your hearing 18 hours to recover afterwards
- wear earplugs or ear protection equipment, such as earmuffs, in noisy workplaces
- if you use headphones or earphones, limit use to an hour at a time then take a break
- if you can, use headphones or earphones that block outside noise
- don’t listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume
Workplaces have rules about noise levels, but you need to make sure they are being followed. If you are concerned about your hearing, your doctor can put you in touch with an audiologist, who will test your hearing and suggest ways to limit any further damage.
Are There Any Drugs That Fix Hearing Loss
Unfortunately no drugs are available to treat standard hearing loss related to aging or noise exposure. But one day, there might be: Researchers from all over the world have been searching for ways to make curing hearing loss as easy as a trip to the pharmacy. One of the latest efforts is an ongoing clinical trial of a new injectable drug, dubbed FX-322, to see if the drug can regrow new hair cells to replace those that have been damaged due to one of the many causes of SNHL. The study, by Frequency Therapeutics, is currently a “phase 2,” meaning the drug’s safety and proper dosing is still being worked out before a larger trial is conducted.
There are no FDA-approved drugs that restore hearing loss.
Another emerging area of research is gene therapy for hearing loss, though it could be many years before human testing begins. These and other developments towards restoring hearing in the scientific community are exciting but still preliminary.
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How Bad Does My Hearing Have To Be To Fail An Audiometry Test
For audiometry tests, failure is not measured in terms of “how bad” your hearing loss is but “if” you have suffered any loss at all.
The goal of a hearing test is not to punish employees or search for a reason to fire someone but to protect health and identify problems before serious hearing damage is done. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires workplace audiometric testing for employees who are exposed to potentially hazardous levels of noise in the workplace. The primary purpose of this mandatory workplace audiometric testing is to protect and preserve your hearing. This goal is accomplished by first establishing your baseline hearing level through audiometric testing. An audiometer is used to conduct this hearing test with the results recorded on a graph called an audiogram. In subsequent years, your hearing test results will be compared to your initial baseline audiogram to determine if you have suffered hearing loss. Should these comparisons indicate a deterioration in your hearing, your employer is required to refer you for further examination to determine the cause.
An audiogram is the graphical presentation of the results of your audiometry test. The audiogram displays two measures of your hearing, frequency, and intensity. For each ear, a point will be graphed indicating the softest sound you can hear at each designated frequency. This point is referred to as your hearing threshold.
Do You Also Have Tinnitus
Tinnitus can make it much harder to hear with any given level of hearing loss. If your tinnitus changes from time to time it will mean you can sometimes hear better on some occasions, even though your hearing remains the same, because the sound of the tinnitus will block out what you are trying to listen to.
Tinnitus can also disturb your sleep or make it difficult for you to concentrate. Please visit our pages on tinnitus for more information.
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Hearing Impairment In Infants
The following signs may indicate a hearing problem:
- Before the age of 4 months, the baby does not turn their head toward a noise.
- The infant does not appear to be startled by a loud noise.
- The infant responds to you when they can see you, but respond far less or do not respond at all when you are out of sight and call out their name.
- The infant only seems to be aware of certain sounds.
Hearing Loss Va Ratings Schedule For 2020
Hearing loss is a significant problem for veterans of the military.
According to the VA, more than 2.7 million veterans currently receiving disability for hearing loss or tinnitus.
However, most medical experts argue the number is even higher as not every veteran is aware of their hearing problems or have sought compensation for the disability.
Regardless of the specific number of veterans receiving disability benefits for hearing loss, the problem is prevalent in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Additionally, those that served after September 11 are 4x more likely to have hearing loss compared to civilian counterparts.
The bottom line is hearing loss is a bigger dilemma for veterans compared to most individuals that have worked in the civilian world.
Hearing loss can significantly alter your life, negatively impacting your quality of life and daily functioning.
For this reason, the VA currently offers disability benefits to veterans with hearing loss.
The VA rates hearing loss through federal code 38 CFR 4.85 Evaluation of Hearing Impairment.
The VA ratings are designed to examine each patient on a case by case basis for hearing impairment.
A rating is assigned to the patient based on age and the degree of hearing damage.
The higher percentage the patient receives, the higher likelihood of receiving approval for a disability claim and therefore more compensation.
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What Do We Hear
In order for us to be able to hear a sound at all, it has to be above a certain level. This level is called the auditory threshold or hearing threshold. Humans have a hearing threshold of around 0 decibels. Above this threshold, sounds with higher sound pressure levels are heard as louder noises. Sounds above 90 dB can lead to chronic hearing damage if people are exposed to them every day or all the time. Hearing becomes uncomfortable if the sound pressure level is above 110 decibels , and it becomes painful above 130 decibels .
The following list shows examples of the volume of familiar noises. Most people perceive a 10-decibel increase in volume to be twice as loud.
- Quiet countryside: 20 dB
- Very loud music, for example at a rock concert or a nightclub: 120 dB
- Nearby thunder: 120 dB
Sounds louder than 130 dB can cause acute hearing loss.
Volumes and hearing thresholds
Who Needs A Hearing Aid
Hearing aids are not useful for one ear hearing impairment and not used for profound deafness. It is basically used by people who have hearing loss in both sides of ears and also cant understand the speech, warning, alarms, noise, etc. or cannot communicate with their friend and families.
If you are suffering from mild hearing loss mostly words like f and Th or k and p are lost from the speech or conversation which is a problem of clearly recognizing the words such as the word death may seem like deaf.
People who suffered from mild deafness and have a problem with both ears and also cant understand the speech of other people are the good candidate for hearing aids. Todays hearing devices have become stylish, sleek, upgraded to modern techniques and can improve any degree of deafness. People can buy hearing aids in many styles and low cost by comparing their cost price.
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Does Alcohol Cause Tinnitus
Tinnitus is another common complaint among heavy drinkers Although its not as serious as the other issues weve been talking about, it can be incredibly annoying.
The link between drinking and tinnitus is fairly well established. When we drink, the blood vessels around our ears expand. As a consequence, more blood flows to our ears, and its this blood flow that causes fuzziness when we drink.
Ironically, many people who suffer from tinnitus respond to the irritation caused by the condition with increased alcohol consumption creating a harmful feedback loop. If this sounds like you, there are other solutions to the problem which are much less hazardous for your health, including specialist hearing aids, so dont self-medicate. Get a consultation.
How To Reverse Hearing Loss Naturally
Obviously, hearing loss can be extremely problematic and debilitating, and a person who has lost their hearing may bear the brunt of a lot of social and psychological stigma. Fortunately, it is possible to reverse the effects of hearing loss. There are some natural remedies available out there that can enable you to regain your hearing and gradually restore it to normal.
Here are five different natural remedies that can restore your hearing back to normal. Enthusiasts of natural healing strongly advocate these remedies, although there is little scientific data that can back it up.
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Symptoms Of Severe Hearing Loss
If you lose hearing, either suddenly or over time, details of conversations may become fuzzy. Sounds will become muffled and gradually fade.
Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, you may also have:
- Pain in one or both ears
- Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus
- Pressure or fullness in one or both ears
Often, people with severe hearing loss withdraw from their social lives because they’re embarrassed to ask family and friends to repeat themselves over and over again. They might be afraid they’ll misunderstand a conversation and answer with the wrong comments. Learn more about what causes hearing loss.