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Signs of Hearing Loss

It is estimated that at least eight million people in the UK suffer from some degree of hearing loss. It affects people of all ages and the onset is usually gradual.

An imperative step to understanding hearing loss is recognising the signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss usually occurs gradually and it is painless and invisible. People get used to the absence, or reduction, of sound quality.

Below are some of the common signs of hearing loss, if you come across any of the following signs its worth getting a full hearing examination.
  • Avoidance of previously enjoyable social situations due to mishearing
  • Becoming isolated, depressed or irritable due to hearing difficulties
  • Complaints about others "mumbling"
  • Complaints of noises (tinnitus) in one or both ears
  • Denial of hearing loss and unwillingness to be medically tested
  • Difficulty with hearing over the telephone and the ringing of door bells
  • Difficulty understanding in a crowd and other situations with background noise
  • Dominating discussions and talking louder than usual
  • Frequent inappropriate conversational responses
  • Frequent requests for repetition during conversation
  • Inability to localise sounds
  • Listening to TV or Radio at a very high volume
  • Men's voices being easier to understand than women's or children's
  • Straining one ear over the other
  • Trouble hearing a speaker from a distance

Causes of Hearing Loss

There are two main types of hearing loss, one is known as sensori-neural hearing loss (damage is within the inner ear and / or the auditory nerve) and the other is known as conductive hearing loss (damage is within the middle ear - the ear drum or the bones behind the ear drum).

Age related (Presbycusis) – Gradual deterioration in hearing commonly occurring in both ears mainly affecting high pitched sounds.

Inherited – Can be attributed to many different syndromes or through other genetic causes.

Noise induced– Permanent or temporary hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises; either a sudden very loud sound or more commonly repeated exposure to high level sounds.

Inner ear infection – Maybe caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Hearing loss likely to be of sudden onset with varying levels of severity.

Head trauma – Fracture of skull can cause damage to the inner ear or the hearing nerve.

Ototoxic Medication – Can cause temporary or permanent damage to the cochlea, typically affecting the higher pitches of hearing. They may include lifesaving antibiotics and some chemotherapy drugs.

Wax – a buildup of wax in the outer ear may stop sounds from reaching the ear drum.

Outer ear (otitis externa)/ Middle ear (otitis media) Infection – Infections and inflammation in the outer ear or middle ear can cause conductive hearing loss.

Ear drum perforation – a hole in the ear drum may be caused by several things including trauma, pressure, ear surgery and infection.

Glue ear – Inflammation in the middle ear with associated fluid filling the middle ear space around the ossicles. The fluid stops the ossicles and ear drum from moving effectively and stops sound from easily passing through to the inner ear.
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