Deafness is a common problem affecting millions of individuals around the world. Some causes are acquired, some inherited. Some are preventable, some are not. Here are 4 major causes of deafness and hearing loss.
- Old age. With age the function of the sensory apparatus of the ear and the auditory nerve become reduced. Presbyacusis is the name of this condition. Hearing aids often compensate by amplifying the ambient sounds. Unfortunate this solution does not always work. This is because background noise is often amplified more than voices. This can sometimes make the problem worse. High-end hearing aids may be better but these can be expensive.
- Ear wax and foreign body. The second of our major causes of deafness and hearing loss cause a blockage in the ear canal. Soften wax with drops if it has become impacted so it runs out of the ear. Only use ear buds to remove it from around the outside of the ear. They should not be inserted into the ear canal as this can worsen the impaction. Severe impacted wax used to be syringed from the ears. This can cause trauma to the eardrum resulting in tinnitus. This may be temporary but unfortunately can last a long time. As a result functioning is now recommended instead. Drops are used to soften the wax. Warm olive oil works well and is readily available. Drops are also available from the chemist which use other ingredients. Microsuction is a specialist procedure which may be available under the NHS. Speak to your GP, they may be able to refer you. Otherwise you may need to pay privately. It is definitely worth considering this option as wax build up impairs hearing.
- Noise-associated hearing loss. This is caused by exposure to high volume noise. The delicate sensory part of the ears is permanently damaged. Permanent deafness and tinnitus may follow. Molded ear plugs such as ours from http://zenplugs.com/molded-earplugs/ should be worn to protect the hearing. Unfortunately the problem is becoming more common in young people. The rate has increased 3% to 5% over the last few years. This is as a result of the use of MP3 players and visiting loud clubs. Ear plugs should always be worn for protection whenever exposure is possible. In the past noise-induced hearing loss was much more common. This was before the days of health and safety. Factory and mill workers were exposed to unsafe levels of noise on a daily basis. Nowadays it is the responsibility of the employers to keep people safe. As a result people measure noise levels and ear plugs have been made mandatory if the levels are too high. Noise-induced hearing loss is still common in non-working environments. Drivers of vintage open-top cars are at high risk due the effects of turbulence. This causes a loud noise as manufacturers were less aware of aerodynamics. Nowadays more is known and modern open-top cars are much quieter when driven at speed with the top down.
- Inherited. Deafness is occasionally present from birth. There are many reasons for this. These include the absence of an ear canal and altered anatomy of the sensory apparatus of the ear. Some of these conditions can be improved through surgery. Cochlear implants can restore hearing in some situations. Otherwise hearing aids are helpful in many other situations.