The sound of life is all around us. It is in the rustling leaves, the whistling wind and even in our heartbeats. When we can no longer hear these sounds, it changes everything about how we interact with the world; how we communicate, what jobs are available to us – it alters our entire way of life. Learning more about hearing loss and deafness means that you will always be ready for any changes in your hearing that may arise.

Is Deafness and Hearing Problems the Same Thing?

Hearing problems and deafness are two terms that you can easily confuse. While both deal with listening to or processing sound, there is a considerable difference between the two. Deafness is a condition where the person cannot hear anything, while hearing problems affect how well you can hear.

What Are the Causes of Hearing Problems and Deafness?

There are many different causes of hearing loss and deafness. Most of them resulting from a condition called sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural means damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear or auditory nerve, which carry sounds from your ears to your brain. Sensorineural hearing loss can be congenital or acquired later in life because of environmental factors, trauma to the ear or other health problems. Causes of acquired hearing loss include:

Noise exposure, ear infections, fluid in ears, tumors on the auditory nerve, malformation of ear and bones or congenital problems with the middle or inner ear.

What Are the Symptoms of Hearing Issues and Deafness?

Deafness symptoms vary widely depending on which part of your ear is damaged and whether you experience total hearing loss or just trouble picking up specific sounds. Symptoms of hearing loss can include: 

  • Trouble understanding speech, especially when there is background noise. For example, your child may not be able to understand someone speaking at a party where music is playing or in the car with the radio on.
  • Difficulty making out conversations if you are several feet away from people talking to you.
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves, especially when people speak in a soft voice or there is background noise.
  • Turning up the volume on the television and other audio devices so that you can hear better.
  • Asking for clarification of what someone said because it sounded like they were saying something completely different than what you thought they said.
  • Not hearing birds singing, doorbells ringing, alarm clocks going off and other everyday sounds that most people take for granted.

What Are the Types of Hearing Loss?

There are four main types of hearing loss. They include conductive, sensorineural, mixed and central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). Conductive hearing loss results from physical changes to the outer or middle ear, including fluid build-up in the canal due to infection or injury. 

Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear or nerve pathways between the brain and inner ear. Mixed hearing loss occurs when there are both outer and middle ear problems along with sensorineural issues. Central auditory processing disorder often results in difficulties in understanding speech at any distance, even when it can be heard normally.

What Are the Treatments for Hearing Problems?

There are many different treatments available for hearing problems. The treatment that is best suited to you will depend upon the specific type of problem, its severity and how long it has been present. You should see your audiologist who may refer you to a specialist if necessary. For some people with more severe problems, the use of hearing aids may be helpful. There are different types and styles available to help you hear more clearly and focus on specific sounds.

Are there Treatments for Deafness?

There are treatments for deafness, but they all depend on the cause. However, in many cases, it is possible to identify a cure or treatment so that someone deaf can hear again – either temporarily or permanently. In other cases, hearing aids can manage hearing problems.

Deafness from ear infections or damage to structures in the inner ear may often resolve and go away entirely with medical treatment such as antibiotic ear drops. Some types of deafness associated with tumors or trauma to the head and neck may be treatable, especially in children.

Hearing loss and deafness are common problems that affect millions of people. It could be genetic, it could be due to long-term exposure to loud noise and it can affect anyone at any age. If you suspect yourself having such a condition – see your audiologist as soon as possible! In case you would like to know more about hearing problems and deafness, call our Quality Hearing Aid Center at (248) 430-8791.