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Symptoms & Causes of Hearing Loss

Function of the ear

Recognizing a hearing loss in yourself, or someone you know, is the first step toward improving the situation. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, such as women's and children's voices, as well as birds' singing
  • Difficulty hearing at public gatherings: concert halls, theatres, houses of worship - where sound sources are far from the listener
  • Difficulty understanding conversations within a group of people, or on the telephone
  • Because hearing loss can develop over several years, most people are not aware of the extent of their loss until family or friends bring it to their attention. Even then they might deny that they have difficulty hearing.

People with mild hearing loss often use the following tactics to cope with their condition:

  • Turning up the TV to a volume level that disturbs others
  • Consistently asking people to repeat themselves, or to speak more loudly
  • Avoiding social situations such as restaurants or parties, where noise can make it difficult to hear conversation
  • Turning the head to one side while listening

Causes of Hearing Impairment

Most often a hearing loss develops gradually and painlessly. Hearing can be damaged by:

  • Exposure to loud or constant noise
  • Inherited medical conditions
  • Illness
  • The natural ageing process
  • Traumatic injury
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Tumours

Your Hearing Loss is as Unique as Your Fingerprint

Because all of the factors listed above combine in different degrees for different people, no two people have exactly the same hearing impairment.

Fortunately, recent advances like computer-programmable and fully digital hearing aids now allow your Hearing Health Care Professional to more precisely match your individual hearing requirements.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three general types of hearing loss:

  1. Conductive hearing loss occurs when the eardrum, bones and membranes don't properly transmit vibrations to the cochlea. Causes include traumatic head injury or birth defects.
  2. Sensorineural hearing loss is characterized by deterioration of the cochlea. Causes include the ageing process and excessive exposure to loud noise.
  3. Mixed hearing loss which involves a combination of both of the above.

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