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How to Recognize Hearing Problems?

a cupped hand to an ear

Hearing loss is something that affects everyone gradually as they age. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, around 48 million people experience hearing loss to some degree. But, did you know that hearing loss is something that can occur to everyone of all ages – even children? That’s because the aging process isn’t the only cause of hearing loss.

What can cause hearing loss?

From a medical point of view, hearing loss can get categorized as one of the following three forms:

  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Inner ear hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss

Each of your ears is made up of three main components: the outer, middle and inner ears.

The outer ear consists of the external portion that you see every day, and the ear canal. Its purpose is to gather sound energy and direct it into your eardrum.

When those sound waves travel through your ear canal and into your eardrum, a series of small bones amplify the sound in your middle ear. At that point, the sound waves continue to travel through to the inner ear via a snail-shaped structure known as the cochlea. It’s there that nerve cells and tiny hairs attached to them convert the sound waves into electrical signals sent to your brain.

Now that you know more about how sound travels through your ears, you can find out about the most common causes of hearing loss to patients:

  • Inner ear damage: Causes include aging and constant exposure to loud noises either through one’s occupation or by listening to music at loud volumes all the time.
  • Earwax buildup: Having a regular bath or shower helps to naturally clear any buildup of earwax. But, if that doesn’t happen, earwax can block the ear canal and prevent the transit of sound waves
  • Ear infection: If a person has an ear infection, it can cause painful inflammation or a fluid buildup
  • Ruptured eardrum: Things such as loud blasts of noise or even sudden air pressure changes can cause eardrums to rupture, resulting in hearing loss.

The risk factors of hearing loss

The aging process is something that no-one can halt, and because of that process, everyone will experience some hearing loss as they get older. Another risk factor that some patients with hearing loss cannot do anything about is heredity. Some individuals could be genetically predisposed to experiencing hearing loss more than other people.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that some risk factors include illnesses that cause high fevers such as meningitis. As you can appreciate, it’s not easy to lead a life where you don’t come into contact with bacteria or viruses, especially when you come into contact with other people regularly.

But there are some risk factors that everyone has some degree of control over and can prevent. They are as follows:

  • Long-term exposure to loud noises, either recreational or occupational
  • Medication that lists tinnitus or temporary hearing loss as side effects

How to prevent hearing loss

There are several steps you can take to prevent hearing loss.

First of all, it’s vitally important to protect your ears. Does your occupation require you to use noisy equipment for long periods? If so, there are several ways that you can protect your ears. For example, you could wear plastic earplugs. Another option is to wear glycerin-filled earmuffs.

Another practical step to prevent hearing loss is by lowering recreational risks. Here are some easy methods you can follow today:

  • Avoid going to concerts playing loud music, or standing right near loudspeakers
  • Wear ear protection when using power tools or riding motorcycles, quad bikes, or snowmobiles
  • Turn the volume down when you’re listening to music at home, work, or in your car

Last but not least, it makes perfect sense to have regular hearing tests. You can ask for a referral to an audiologist from your doctor. Or, you can contact a hearing center that offers audiologic evaluations direct to the public.

Are you experiencing hearing loss?

Do you feel like you might be experiencing hearing loss? Is it increasingly frustrating to attend social gatherings because you find it hard to hear what people are saying over the background noise? If the answer to either question is yes, it makes sense to contact the Physicians Hearing Center at 334-673-7399. Our friendly team of physicians and audiology doctors is ready to help you improve your hearing loss symptoms and improve your quality of life.