Despite common misconceptions, hearing loss begins often towards the age of fifty years. This hearing impairment, which we call presbycusis, is generally gradual. That’s why this hearing loss often goes unnoticed!
Here are some tell-tale warning signs.
High-pitched sounds aren’t as pure anymore. Perception of high-pitched sounds can become less precise. Presbycusis is a hearing loss which only affects certain sounds. High-pitched sounds are the first to go, followed by low-frequency tones.
Close ones who don’t articulate. Hearing loss always lowers comprehension. You’ll get the impression that people you speak to don’t articulate. A conversation in a restaurant, a family reunion or the phone may feel difficult to you. All these situations become annoying and unpleasant.
Tinnitus. Presbycusis may come with tinnitus. These sounds, which form in the ears or in a diffuse way inside the head and have no real exterior source, are the most obvious, and perhaps the most annoying, sign of hearing loss.
Comments from your close ones. They will remark on the volume of the TV or the radio. Often, spouses and children are the first to notice hearing loss.
Causes of deafness
Aside from aging, hearing loss can be caused by many factors: drug-induced deafness, otospongiosis, acoustic trauma, etc.
Hearing loss due to aging is the main cause of deafness in persons over 50 years. It is called presbycusis and indicates a selective loss of high-pitched frequencies, which are most used for comprehension of speech. In these persons, the hearing loss first translates to a feeling of reduced social interactions.
Presbycusis is the most common form of bilateral deafness. Often, the patient does not realise that isolation is his or her own choice, accusing others of speaking wrong, of not articulating or of ignoring them.
It is time to react! A medical treatment is impossible. A hearing aid is suggested as soon as presbycusis becomes a serious social impediment. According to European and American studies, it is clear that hearing loss without appropriate treatment can cause irreversible damage to hearing. It is recommended to get a hearing aid as soon as possible.
Hearing loss in the inner ear can also be caused by an acoustic trauma or by secondary effects of drugs (ototoxicity).
Hearing loss resulting from an outer ear problem is called conductive hearing loss. There are three types of hearing loss due to the outer ear: an outer ear infection (external otitis), an excess of earwax, or an object obstructing the ear canal.
Hearing loss resulting from a middle ear problem is also called conductive hearing loss. There are three types of principal loss: a viral or bacterial infection of the middle ear, a perforated eardrum caused by an external object or an infection, or an otosclerosis that impedes the stirrup bone’s mobility.
Variety of factors
Deafness is caused by a variety of factors:
- Regular exposure to loud, repetitive noise
- Drug intoxication
- Build-up of ear wax
- Violent blow to the head