Surprising Causes Of Hearing Loss You Might Not Know About
When it comes to hearing loss, there are many common reasons that you may experience it. Being constantly exposed to loud noises at work or even attending loud music events can wreak havoc on your hearing. We will share five surprising causes of hearing loss that you should protect yourself against going into the future.
Did A Virus Cause My Sudden Hearing Loss
Researchers think that in cases of sudden hearing loss where no obvious cause can be identified, a mild viral infection may have been to blame. This is because people often report having a head cold or respiratory infection in the days and weeks before they lost their hearing.
How would it do this? The virus itselfor the resulting inflammationsomehow damages the inner ear’s delicate hair cells and/or the blood supply. Any number of viruses may be responsible, including some that may not produce many symptoms, meaning a person is unaware they’re sick until they experience hearing loss. This is an area of emerging research.
An Ent Can Help Get To The Bottom Of The Problem
If a primary care or urgent care provider doesnt see any signs of blockage or infection in the ear that could be causing sudden hearing loss, the next step is quick referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist.
The ENTspecialist will want to rule out anything else that could be causing thesymptoms and give a hearing test.
Many of these patients would not have a baseline hearingtest for comparison, but in those circumstances, what were mostly looking foris asymmetry, or a difference between the two ears, Dr. Woodson explains.
They may also order an MRI to rule out other problems, such as benign tumors that form on the hearing and balance nerves. These are called acoustic neuromas. These are uncommon tumors, but this is the way they tend to pop up first, with sudden hearing loss, Dr. Woodson says.
If SSNHL is determined to be the culprit for the hearingloss, the next step is steroid therapy to reduce inflammation in the inner ear.This typically starts with oral treatment , but depending on thesituation and the patient, injection of steroids into the ear drum could alsobe an option.
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How Is Unilateral Hearing Loss Managed
Hearing loss treatments often depend on what causes your hearing loss and how severe it is.
Management options for unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness include:
In addition to devices, communication strategies and environmental modifications can help people with hearing loss communicate more effectively.
Introduction To The Vestibular System
The vestibular system is located in your inner ear and maintains balance throughout your body. This system is also responsible for giving you awareness of your bodys relationship with the space around you.
- The Labyrinth is the area of the inner ear that houses all the components of the vestibular system. This maze-like structure is comprised of spongy bone and soft tissues.
- The Semicircular Canals are three fluid-filled ducts nestled inside the labyrinth. Arranged at right angles to one another, the movement of liquids in these structures help track your heads vertical movements.
- The Cupula are gel-like structures stretching across the semicircular canals like drumheads. The base of this drumhead rests against a series of sensitive hair cells, stereocilia. When you shift your head, these tiny hairs bend to follow the movement of your head.
- The Utricle and Saccule are otolithic organs resting between the cochlea and the semicircular canals. Much like the canals, they use stereocilia to track the movement of your head as it relates to gravity.
What Research Does The Nidcd Support On Sudden Deafness
Since so little is known about the causes of most cases of SSHL, researchers are considering different types, risk factors, and causes of SSHL. For instance, researchers are studying how changes in the inner ear, such as disrupted blood flow or inflammation, may contribute to hearing loss. Researchers are also testing new ways to use imaging to help diagnose SSHL and potentially detect its causes.
NIDCD-funded researchers are also trying to improve ways of dispensing drugs into the inner ear by intratympanic injections. Scientists are developing ways to infuse drugs into tiny microspheres that can slowly release the drug. This would allow doctors to give a single injection of a slow-releasing drug into the ear rather than several injections of a traditional fast-releasing drug. Another team of scientists is studying the use of magnets to push drug-infused particles into and throughout the inner ear, distributing the drug more evenly and effectively. Visit the NIH Clinical Research Trials and You website to read about these and other clinical trials that are recruiting volunteers.
Ssnhl Vs Other Ear Issues
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is different from the common temporary phenomenon called eustachian tube dysfunction. This is the cloudy hearing and full feeling in the ear that you might experience when traveling on an airplane. Its also different from a feeling of blockage caused by allergies or a cold, though it can feel similar.
SSNHL happens because of damage to the inner ear, or becauseof problems with the nerve fibers that deliver information from the ear to thebrain. Most of the time, theres no clear rhyme or reason why it happens tosomeone. It can be either temporary or permanent.
So, if youexperience a sudden change in your hearing, how do you know whether its SSNHLor one of these other things?
Any kind of noticeable hearing loss should prompt a visit to your primary care doctor or urgent care center for investigation, Dr. Woodson says.
The presence of dizziness or vertigo along with hearing loss can be clues of SSNHL, she says. Some people also report a strong ringing in their ear before their hearing fades.
Thats because the brain does not know what to do with the changes of signal its getting from the ear, so it either misinterprets what bad signal its getting as noise, or its trying to fill in the gap almost like a phantom sound, she explains.
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What Is Hearing Loss In One Ear
Hearing loss doesnt always happen equally in both ears. Hearing loss in one ear, called unilateral hearing loss, occurs when one ear has hearing loss, but the other ear can hear normally.
Both children and adults can experience unilateral hearing loss. Sometimes its temporary and can be treated to restore normal hearing. Other times, the loss can be permanent.
While one ear can hear normally with unilateral hearing loss, our bodies were designed to be binaural, or to hear with both ears. Our ears constantly communicate with one another as they absorb sounds from the environment. People who cant hear out of one ear may find it difficult to:
- Detect where a sound is coming from
- Hear and understand speechespecially in crowded, noisy environments
- Hear clearly and loudly
- Tune out background noises
This type of hearing loss can range from mild to profound if the loss is severe enough, it may mean the person is deaf in one ear. In these cases, it is sometimes called single-sided deafness .
I recently started to experience muffled hearing in one ear. Whats going on with my blocked ear?
Those that experience muffled ear typically describe a full or plugged up feeling. When your ear feels clogged and muffled, it can often feel like there is cotton or some other object clogging the ear.
Unilateral And Bilateral Deafness
Single-sided deafness , or unilateral deafness, refers to hearing impairment in just one ear, while bilateral deafness is hearing impairment in both.
People with a unilateral hearing impairment may find it hard to carry on a conversation if the other person is on their affected side. Pinpointing the source of a sound may be more difficult, when compared with those who can hear well in both ears. Understanding what others are saying when there is a lot of environmental noise might be hard.
With little to no background noise, a person with unilateral deafness has virtually the same communicative abilities as a person with functional hearing in both ears.
Babies born with unilateral deafness tend to have developmental speech delays. They may find it harder to concentrate when they go to school. Social activities may be more challenging than it is for children with no hearing problems.
The symptoms of hearing impairment depend on its cause. Some people are born without being able to hear, while others suddenly become deaf due to an accident or illness. For most people, symptoms of deafness progress gradually over time.
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Hearing Impairment In Toddlers And Children
These signs might become more evident in slightly older children:
- The child is behind others the same age in oral communication.
- The child keeps saying âWhat?â or âPardon?â
- The child talks in a very loud voice, and tends to produce louder-than-normal noises.
- When the child speaks, their utterances are not clear.
Meaning Of Hearing Loss:
The human ear just like every aspect of the body is prone to damage where its use becomes extreme or where it is exposed to environment not conducive to it. Hearing loss in its simplified meaning refers to a partial or total inability to hear, caused by various factors such as old age, noise, illness, chemicals and physical trauma but not limited to these mentioned factors alone. Hearing loss can also be referred to as a loss of intimacy, due to the fact that as hearing acuity declines, the ability to identify a voice over background sounds is one of the first step to be taken. This article highlights the regular causes of hearing loss.
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Differential Diagnosis And Treatment Of Hearing Loss
JON E. ISAACSON, M.D., and NEIL M. VORA, M.D., Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Am Fam Physician. 2003 Sep 15 68:1125-1132.
Hearing loss is a common problem that can occur at any age and makes verbal communication difficult. The ear is divided anatomically into three sections , and pathology contributing to hearing loss may strike one or more sections. Hearing loss can be categorized as conductive, sensorineural, or both. Leading causes of conductive hearing loss include cerumen impaction, otitis media, and otosclerosis. Leading causes of sensorineural hearing loss include inherited disorders, noise exposure, and presbycusis. An understanding of the indications for medical management, surgical treatment, and amplification can help the family physician provide more effective care for these patients.
More than 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing impairment. The differential diagnosis of hearing loss can be simplified by considering the three major categories of loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound conduction is impeded through the external ear, the middle ear, or both. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is a problem within the cochlea or the neural pathway to the auditory cortex. Mixed hearing loss is concomitant conductive and sensorineural loss.
Signs Of Unilateral Hearing Loss
As you may still be able to hear with one ear, its not always easy to determine if you have hearing loss in one ear. Signs that you may have lost hearing in one ear can include:
- Hearing is worse when sound comes from one side
- All sounds seem quieter than before
- Difficulty being able to tell where a sound is coming from
- Struggle to ignore background noise or being able to tell different sounds apart
- Speech sounds unclear
- Difficulty hearing over long distances or in noisy environments
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Causes Of Hearing Loss In One Ear
Hearing loss in one ear can be both sudden and dramatic. Losing your hearing in one ear is also serious and potentially permanent. So, what can cause hearing loss in one ear? There are a wide range of factors that can cause deafness in one ear including:
Other causes may include a build-up of earwax or swimmers ear . But whatever the cause it always pays to have your hearing checked out by a House of Hearing specialist or a doctor.
Lip Reading And Sign Language
Hearing loss can sometimes affect your speech, as well as your ability to understand other people. Many people with significant hearing loss learn to communicate in other ways instead of, or as well as, spoken English.
For people who experience hearing loss after they’ve learnt to talk, lip-reading can be a very useful skill. Lip-reading is where you watch a persons mouth movements while they’re speaking, to understand what they’re saying.
For people born with a hearing impairment, lip-reading is much more difficult. Those who are born with a hearing impairment often learn sign language, such as British Sign Language , which is a form of communication that uses hand movements and facial expressions to convey meaning.
BSL is completely different from spoken English and has its own grammar and syntax . Other types of sign language include Signed English and Paget Gorman Signed Speech.
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How To Treat A Temporary Hearing Loss In One Ear
Temporary hearing loss can be a little terrifying and can often be caused by a number of things. It can affect anyone and everyone, so its worth knowing how you can treat such loss when youre experiencing it for the first time. Its most commonly with those who are subjected to loud noises or sounds, but there are also other reasons that you might not have considered. For future reference or if youre currently experiencing temporary hearing loss, heres how to treat it.
Hearing Aids And Vertigo
The inner ear is one of three parts in the bodyâs system of balance, which also includes your limbs and vision, Catherine Palmer, PhD, professor and director of Audiology and Hearing Aids at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
âSo, if your inner ear balance system has a problem and is literally telling your brain that you are in one position and your vision is telling your brain you are in a different position, this mismatch will cause the sensation of vertigo,â Palmer says.
- Jerky eye movements
Hearing aids might help some people with vertigo symptoms since sound can help a person orient themselves and navigate their environment â but hearing aids are not a treatment for vertigo itself, Palmer advises. As for dizziness from hearing aids, this too is rare, according to Samuel Bittel, AuD, vestibular specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
âIn an ear with hearing loss and normal anatomical structure, a hearing aid should not cause dizziness,â Bittel says.
Vertigo with hearing aids could mean you need a device adjustment, or it could point to more serious conditions. According to Palmer, your audiologist can lower your hearing aidsâ sound output and modify the timeline for adjusting to your devices so youâre more comfortable. But if youâre experiencing long-term vertigo with hearing aids, you might need to get evaluated, Bittel advises.
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How Do We Hear
Sound waves are created when air vibrates. To hear, the ear must change sound into electrical signals which the brain can interpret. The outer part of the ear funnels sound waves into the ear canal. When sound waves reach the eardrum they make it vibrate. Vibrations of the eardrum make the tiny bones in the middle ear move too. The last of these bones passes on the vibrations to the fluid-filled chamber called the cochlea. When the vibrations reach the cochlea, the fluid inside it moves. As the fluid moves it vibrates the hairs on the cells that line the cochlea. Each cell is stimulated by a particular note of sound. The vibration of the hair cells is turned into an electrical signal by the organ of Corti, at their base. The organ of Corti then sends signals down the hearing nerve to the brain. Special areas in the brain receive these signals and translate them into what we know as sound.
Your ears create electrical signals that represent an extraordinary variety of sounds. For example, the speed at which the eardrum vibrates varies with different types of sound. With low-pitched sounds the eardrum vibrates slowly. With high-pitched sounds it vibrates faster. This means that the special hair cells in the cochlea also vibrate at varying speeds. This causes different signals to be sent to the brain. This is one of the ways in which we are able to distinguish between a wide range of sounds.
When To Seek Medical Attention
If you notice you dont hear as well as you used to, then now is the best time to talk to your healthcare provider. Even though it may not be easy to explain what you are feeling, its the best way to get the problem addressed. Discuss the following with your healthcare provider:
- Discuss the symptoms you have and when they appear
- Ask them how these symptoms can be addressed or improved
- Talk about ways to protect your hearing from further hearing loss
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How Is Hearing Loss In One Ear Treated
Treatment options for your hearing loss will depend on the cause of your condition. In some cases, hearing loss will be irreversible. Your doctor may recommend a hearing aid to help improve your hearing if there is no other treatment for your hearing loss.
Other treatment options may include:
- surgery to repair the ear or remove a tumor
- antibiotics to treat infection
Treatments For Ear Infections
Typically, ear infections resolve themselves, but in some instances, they may need antibiotics if a bacterial infection wont resolve independently. In cases of chronic ear infections, a child might need a procedure known as tympanostomy, which inserts a draining tube in the eardrum.
This tube allows fluid to exit the middle ear and effectively mitigates the potential for pressure differentials between the middle and outer ear. It also significantly reduces the chance of more recurrent ear infections.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment available for viral infection of the inner ear. The best that can be done is supportive care during the infection and finding ways to regain lost functions. Because this can result in sudden-onset hearing loss, it may be difficult initially since the ears and brain have little time to adapt.
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