Can I Prevent Hearing Impairment
Many cases of hearing loss or deafness are not preventable however, hearing loss caused by loud noise can be prevented, and prevention efforts can start at any age . There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of this type of hearing loss.
The intensity of sound is measured in units called , and any sounds over 80 decibels are considered hazardous with prolonged exposure. These include things like loud music, sirens and engines, and power tools such as jackhammers and leaf blowers.
To reduce the risk of permanent hearing damage, you can:
- Turn down the volume on your stereo, TV, and especially the headset on your music player.
- Wear earplugs if you’re going to a loud concert or other event . Special protective earmuffs are a good idea if you operate a lawn mower or leaf or snow blower, or at a particularly loud event, like a car race. If you feel your hearing is different after being at an event with a lot of noise , it means you’re probably experiencing a temporary hearing loss due to noise. Don’t worry, it will go away , but it means that next time you want to participate in the same event, you should wear protection for your ears to avoid a permanent hearing loss.
- See your doctor right away if you suspect any problems with your hearing, and get your hearing tested on a regular basis.
What Is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is hearing loss that damages the inner ear . SSHL most frequently happens in one ear. Patients often wake up with the sound of an ear that sounds blocked, congested, or clogged ear. They may also have other symptoms such as ringing in the ears or tinnitus. About half of patients may experience spinning dizziness called vertigo. Together, these symptoms indicate that the inner ear that provides sensations for hearing and balance are being damaged.
SSHL is an emergency of the ear. Early treatment within 2 weeks can recover hearing in 80% of cases.
Causes Of Sudden Hearing Loss
There are over 100 possible causes for SSHL. These include infectious diseases, head trauma, abnormal tissue growth, circulatory problems, neurologic disorders, toxic causes, immunologic diseases, inner ear problems such as Menieres disease and ototoxic medications. Certain groups of antibiotics, in particular, have been shown to destroy the hair cells of the cochlea, causing sudden deafness that is often permanent in nature. These must be used with extreme caution and should be avoided unless they are the only viable course of treatment for a life-threatening illness. Be sure to question your physician or clinic thoroughly when antibiotics are prescribed.
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The Causes Of Hearing Loss Include:
1.Damage to the inner ear.
Aging and exposureto loud noise may cause wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in thecochlea that send sound signals to the brain. When these hairs or nerve cellsare damaged or missing, electrical signals aren’t transmitted as efficiently,and hearing loss occurs.
2.Higher pitched tones may become muffled toyou.
It may become difficult for you to pick out words against backgroundnoise.
3.Gradual buildup of earwax.
Earwax can blockthe ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. Earwax removal can helprestore your hearing.
4.Ear infection and abnormal bone growths ortumors.
In the outer or middle ear, any of these can cause hearing loss.
5.Ruptured eardrum .
Loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, poking youreardrum with an object and infection can cause your eardrum to rupture andaffect your hearing.
Can Hearing Loss Lead To Deafness
Some types of hearing loss develop gradually. An age-related hearing loss typically becomes worse over the years.For most people, a hearing loss will not develop into deafness, but for some, it can develop into a profound hearing loss or even deafness. Profound hearing loss is defined as the inability to hear sound levels below 90 dB.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose It
Hearing loss can be difficult to diagnose in infants and babies because they haven’t yet developed communication skills. All babies are screened before they leave the hospital to see if they have hearing loss. Sometimes parents may begin to notice that the baby doesn’t respond to loud noises or to the sound of voices, or has a delay in speech.
Certain symptoms in teens should prompt a trip to the doctor. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you should let your parents or doctor know if:
- You feel that people mumble or that their speech is not clear, or you hear only parts of conversations when people are talking.
- You often ask people to repeat what they said.
- Friends or family tell you that you don’t seem to hear very well.
- You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story.
- You need to ask others about the details of a class or meeting you attended.
- People say that you play music or your TV too loudly.
- You can’t hear the doorbell or telephone.
The doctor will do an ear exam and, if necessary, refer someone with these symptoms to an audiologist, a health professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating hearing problems. The audiologist will do various hearing tests that can help detect where the problem might be.
A person may also need to see an otolaryngologist , a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat problems.
Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment
Shortly after experiencing sudden hearing loss, your doctor will want to focus on reducing some risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. Youll also need to take steps to ensure the reduction of stress in your personal life. If your sudden hearing loss began more than a year ago, the only option left is to alleviate it with the help of hearing aids.
However, the earlier you start treatment, the better the prognosis. In a best-case scenario, you would see an ENT doctor within the first 24 hours and get help right away. Treatment for sudden hearing loss involves stimulation of inner ear circulation and the elimination of possible triggers. Other forms of treatment include:
Circulation-enhancing medicationIn the event of sudden hearing loss, the inner ears blood circulation is reduced or impaired. Blood supplies the inner ear with required nutrients, and if circulation is inhibited, the sensory hair cells of the ear are permanently damaged. Circulation can be improved with circulation-enhancing medication, which can also include cortisone to prevent any swelling .
Local anesthesia to block inhibited nervesLocal anesthetics like procaine and lidocaine are frequently used by a medical professional to treat sudden hearing loss. These anesthetics block nerves that potentially lead to vascular constriction.
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Recognizing Sudden Hearing Loss
According to current medical standards, a diagnosis for sudden hearing loss is determined through the process of elimination. Your ENT specialist can use ear microscopy and a hearing test to ascertain whether you have a sudden hearing loss or another illness. Various examination procedures are performed to obtain clarification. Your ENT specialist, for example, can use otoscopy to discover whether other external characteristics, such as obstructions and injuries in the ear canal, should be excluded. Using hearing tests , the doctor determines the extent and localization of the hearing impairment. A doctor can best determine the classification of sudden hearing loss into high-, mid- and low-frequency or pancochlear sensorineural hearing loss by performing a pure-tone audiogram during the diagnostic process.
What is pancochlear sensorineural hearing loss?The word pancochlear is divided into the two terms: pan and cochlea . Therefore, this kind of hearing impairment is one that affects the entire structure of the inner ear
Risk Of Leaving Hearing Loss Untreated
Having a hearing test as early as possible to confirm if you have a hearing loss is critical to achieve the best outcomes.
Did you know: Our brains process sound, rather than our ears theyre actually just the pathway in. This means that the longer your brain goes without sound, the chance of being able to understand speech clearly, decreases. If youre not able to hear people speech clearly, staying connected to your friends and loved ones is far more difficult.
Research also suggests that by not treating hearing loss, the risk of increased memory loss and depression also rises.4 With early fitting of hearing technology, youll have the best chance of keeping your brain stimulated and healthy and staying connected in your social life.
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How To Prevent Hearing Loss
Many cases of hearing loss caused by noise can be prevented by avoiding exposure to loud noise as much as possible or by using hearing protection. Daily exposure to noise is directly related to the risk of hearing damage. We are exposed to loud noises daily. For example, when we use headphones, when we are in traffic, the gym, the cinema, stadiums, cafés and at work. If the noise level is too high, it is a good idea to use ear plugs. Read more about preventing hearing loss.
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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Signs And Symptoms Of Hearing Loss
It’s not always easy to tell if you’re losing your hearing.
Common signs include:
- difficulty hearing other people clearly, and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places
- asking people to repeat themselves
- listening to music or watching television loudly
- having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying, which can be tiring or stressful
The signs can be slightly different if you only have hearing loss in 1 ear or if a young child has hearing loss.
How Common Is Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is fairly widespread.
If you carried out a hearing test on a larger group of people, one-in-six would have a hearing loss of more than 25 dB, which is the definition of hearing impairment recognized by the World Health Organization, WHO. This means that around 16-17% of all adults have a hearing loss.
Numerous studies in Europe and USA have asked whether people have hearing loss. Around 10-11% of people asked answered that they believe they have a hearing loss. This is the same as between every ninth or tenth adult.
The difference between the two numbers is because it is not everybody with a hearing loss who is actually aware of it.
The older one becomes, the higher the likelihood that you have a hearing loss.
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The Cause Of Sudden Hearing Loss Is Often Unknown
SSNHL differs from other types of hearing loss in a couple of important ways. Aside from its rapid onset, it is often idiopathic, meaning the cause is usually unknown. A cause can be identified in only 10 to 15 percent of diagnosed cases.
Some possible known risk factors and causes include:
- Bacterial infection
- Some drugs can cause hearing loss as a side effect, known as ototoxic medications, especially if taken in high doses
- Neurologic diseases or disorders
- Head injury or trauma
- Autoimmune diseases
- Circulation issues
Treatments For Hearing Loss
Hearing loss sometimes gets better on its own, or may be treated with medicine or a simple procedure. For example, earwax can be sucked out, or softened with eardrops.
But other types such as gradual hearing loss, which often happens as you get older may be permanent. In these cases, treatment can help make the most of the remaining hearing. This may involve using:
- hearing aids several different types are available on the NHS or privately
- implants devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear, if hearing aids are not suitable
- different ways of communicating such as sign language or lip reading
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Changes To Your Hearing
Hearing can change gradually without you noticing, or signs of hearing loss can be sudden. It could be getting harder to follow a conversation in noisy places, or the TV may never seem loud enough. Taking the first step of getting a hearing test can be daunting. It means people can take a long time from when they first notice an issue with their hearing, to booking a hearing test.
If this all sounds familiar, youre not alone. We are here to help people of all ages.
Diagnosing Sudden Hearing Loss
A diagnosis for sudden hearing loss is determined through process of elimination. Various examination procedures are all performed to obtain the best results. For example, an ENT doctor can use otoscopy to discover obstructions or injuries in the ear canal. By using hearing tests , a doctor can determine the extent and localization of your hearing loss, and classify your sudden hearing loss into high, mid, or low frequency. A pure-tone audiogram is performed during the diagnostic process to determine if you have pan cochlear sensorineural hearing loss.
How hearing aids can help in the event of sudden hearing lossWearing hearing aids will alleviate the effects of sudden hearing loss if your hearing loss persists over time. Ideally, the appropriate medication should be administered within 24 hours after you notice the symptoms. If treatment does not follow within this period, and your hearing loss becomes chronic, we recommend the use of hearing aids to provide relief. If your sudden hearing loss occurs with tinnitus, the noiser function in most hearing aids can help treat both conditions.
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The Symptoms Of Sudden Hearing Loss
Ear pressure and/or tinnitus are the first signs of a sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Symptoms usually occur at once or after a few days, usually in one ear. The severity of the symptoms may vary significantly. In worst case scenarios, permanent deafness may be possible.
The symptoms for sudden hearing loss include: Occurrence of hearing loss without a recognizable cause The absence of earache Hearing loss in one ear only
The accompanying symptoms include: Loss of sensation in the outer ear Ear pressure
What’s Life Like For People Who Are Hearing Impaired
For people who lose their hearing after learning to speak and hear, it can be difficult to adjust because hearing has been an essential aspect of their communication and relationships.
The good news is that new technologies are making it possible for more hearing-impaired teens to attend school and participate in activities with their hearing peers. These technologies include programmable hearing aids, which teens can adjust for different environments FM systems, which include a microphone/transmitter worn by the teacher and a receiver worn by the student cochlear implants real-time captioning of videos and voice-recognition software, which can help with note taking.
Many hearing-impaired teens read lips and use ASL, Cued Speech, or other sign languages, and in some cases an interpreter may be available to translate spoken language in the classroom. Some teens may attend a separate school or special classes offered within a public school.
And for hearing-impaired people who want to go to college, many universities in the United States will accommodate their needs. One college, Gallaudet University, in Washington, DC, is dedicated entirely to hearing-impaired students.
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How Is Sudden Hearing Loss Diagnosed
Tests worth considering in SHL
- Audiometric testing including pure tone and speech audiometry, otoacoustic emissions , and tympanometry. If OAE’s are present, prognosis is better .
- MRI testing of the brain and IAC, Brain MRI testing detects tumors as well as CSF leak, and stroke.Tumors, such as an acoustic neuroma, can even cause SHL that resolves completely . Lawrence and Thevasagayam suggested that MRI should be carried out in “all cases of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. MRI testing is not always ordered — in fact, only about half the time . That does seem somewhat routine to us. In our opinion, MRI is not always necessary as one must consider availability, severity of the situation, and follow-up. In other words, it is naive to say that any test should be done “always” or “never”. Acoustic neurinomas are found in 3-5% of patients with “idiopathic” SHL.
- More general tests that may be useful include CBC, sed-rate, and FTA or RPR/VDRL . All of these blood tests might affect treatment and prognosis.
Tests worthwhile in special cases
- hemoglobin electrophoresis , of course this is mainly found in persons of African descent.
- comprehensive metabolic screen.
- Lyme test. . If positive, this might affect treatment, but the odds are tiny outside of Lyme endemic areas.
- CT scan of the temporal bone. .
Tests unlikely to be helpful