Do you have trouble listening to conversations in public? Do you frequently ask people to repeat themselves? Do you have to raise the volume of the TV or radio all the time? If you answered yes to most of the questions, then you are most likely suffering from some degree of hearing loss. But don’t worry, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 out of 20 people in the world suffer from some form of hearing loss.

Due to a large number of people suffering from hearing impairment, significant research has been conducted in order to help them overcome this problem.

Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss is of different degrees and intensities. It is not necessary that two people who have a hearing impairment may have it of the same level. Similarly, some types of hearing loss are cured through medication and surgery while others are managed by other medical devices such as hearing aids.

There are three types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a mechanical malfunction in the external or middle ear. Due to this, the sound is obstructed and cannot reach the inner ear. Most of the time, conductive hearing loss is curable through medication or surgery. Sometimes, people may need to use hearing aids and other such devices to improve hearing.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to damage in the cochlea or the inner ear. Due to the damage, the hair cells in the cochlea fail to receive sound and send them to the auditory nerve. Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is most often permanent and devices such as cochlear implants and communication therapies are required to overcome this dreadful condition.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Depending on the severity, treatment options can vary.

What Causes it?

There are several reasons that could lead to hearing loss. They could either be hereditary or external.

Some of the known causes of hearing loss are:

  1. Presbycusis: This cause occurs due to age. As the individual grows old, the auditory nerves slowly stop working.
  2. Loud noises: exposure to loud voices such as fireworks
  3. Hereditary
  4. Viral infection in inner ear: Infections such as mumps and measles can cause hearing loss
  5. Viral infections of auditory nerves: Infections such as rubella
  6. Meniere’s disease: This is a disease that causes a person to suffer from episodes of tinnitus, feelings of blockage in the ear and vertigo
  7. Acoustic neuroma: growth on or near the auditory nerve
  8. Meningitis: an infection of protective membrane that surrounds brain and the spinal cord
  9. Encephalitis: inflammation of the brain
  10. Multiple sclerosis: a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord
  11. Head injury
  12. Autoimmune condition: malfunction of immune system whereby the system works against its cells and tissue
  13. Malformation of the ear
  14. Stroke
  15. Use of ototoxic medication
  16. Perforation of ear drums
  17. Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  18. Build up of earwax or presence of a foreign object