Ears definitely take a backseat in our list of vital organs. We seem to associate them with just the sense of hearing while they, alongside, perform another vital function-maintain body balance. Now how many of us want to keep falling off every time we bend?!
In today’s world of global warming, pollution and stress, it’s not just our heart, mind and lungs that are getting affected. No matter how hard we deny, this scenario is certainly affecting our sense of hearing as well. Today, we are more prone to Hearing Loss than we were a decade ago. The irony is, as each day progresses, we won’t get “used to” it.
Ears process sound energy in the most ingenious manner. The sound waves reach the outer ear also called the Auricle/Pinna while exerting pressure on the middle ear at the eardrum or the tympanic membrane. This is further transmitted to the inner ear where the sensitive organ Corti detects the pressure impulses and responds by way of transmitting electrical impulses to the brain for interpretation. The end result –we hear!
Some damage in any of these segments: outer, middle or inner causes Hearing Loss. This is a progressive condition. If early warnings like muffled/unclear hearing, trouble hearing the radio/television, inability to distinguish/understand/differentiate competing noises, avoiding social gathering owing to hearing inconvenience or depression are ignored, it is serious trouble.
The degrees of hearing loss vary from mild, moderate, severe to profound. Based on this, treatments are conducted.
Hearing Loss Configuration offers determining the extent of hearing loss in a person at different frequencies.
Auxiliary Hearing loss include:
- Bilateral & Unilateral
- Symmetrical & Asymmetrical
- Progressive & Sudden hearing loss
- Fluctuating & stable hearing loss
Hearing loss affects the young, old and children as well. In children it’s mostly the Sensorineural hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be broadly divided into:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Damage of the inner ear. This could cause congenial deafness in infants, in adults low or distorted hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss: Here, sound waves do not connect to the middle ear. Caused due to mechanical obstruction, building of the fluid or ear wax, infection, loud music or otosclerosis.
Mixed Hearing Loss: Is a combination of both the above caused due to aging, premature birth, incidences during birth and jaundice among others, family inheritance, or other traumatizing situations.
Sudden Hearing Loss: Loss of sense of hearing over a very short period of time. Also known as Sensorineural Hearing can be caused by Infectious diseases, neurological disorders, abnormal tissue growth, head or brain injury, immunological diseases, and exposure to extreme levels of noise are common causes.
The other alarming condition of Hearing Loss is Tinnitus. When a person hears a noise that does not exist, he’s said to suffer from Tinnitus. It is characterized by the ringing, buzzing in the ear. This could affect due to damages in any part of the ear or brain abnormalities.
Typically the causes are:
- The aging process
- Damage to the microscopic endings in the ear’s nerves
- Disease in the middle of the ear or ear drum.
- Hearing Loss
- Fluid buildup, infections.
- Loud levels of noise
Treatments largely also depend on the detection. Hearing tests conducted by professionals help determining the degree and cause of the loss.
The tests would generally range from Initial tests at the physician’s or home to extensive tests conducted by the Audiologists. These tests are in-depth and go up to the root of the condition.
Ears are vital sense organs and need to be given as much importance as the others. Regular checkups and care would go a long way. If neglected, one would not only end up being deaf but depressed as well. Naturally, if communication is restricted any person gradually becomes a loner and eventually depressed. In order to prevent ourselves and the ones around us from a dire situation it is better to take up matters in hand and not ignore the vital signs of hearing loss.