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Types of Hearing Loss, Risks and Prevention

a woman having a hearing exam

Hearing loss can happen to anyone regardless of their age, genetics or lifestyle. With millions around the world with some level of hearing loss, it's important to speak to a trained audiologist for an accurate hearing exam that will examine your current level of hearing. This will give you a better understanding of your hearing loss and also offer you a number of solutions.

Hearing loss itself can be caused by different factors in life. Some people have hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises throughout their life, such as attending lots of different concerts or playing music in a band. Other people have hearing loss due to genetic reasons, and some have temporary hearing loss due to an ear infection, impacted earwax or another condition.

That’s why it’s important to understand the different types of hearing loss, the risks involved and also how they can be prevented.

Trouble differentiating sounds

Perhaps the most common type of hearing loss is being unable to differentiate sounds, especially in a noisy environment. For instance, if you find that you can't hear someone who is speaking to you because there's too much background noise, then it could be a sign of hearing loss, especially if the other person can hear you perfectly fine.

Hearing loss can be a concern when there is sound higher than 85 decibels. Most conversations can happen between 40-60 decibels, while some common household appliances (such as a lawnmower) can operate at close to 90 decibels. This is enough to give you permanent hearing loss if you're exposed to it for a long period of time.

You may be at a higher risk of having hearing loss if you have kidney or heart disease. This is because poor kidney function can lead to the accumulation of toxins that can damage nerves in your inner ear. Cardiovascular disease can also decrease blood flow to the inner ear, leading to hearing loss. It's recommended that you seek out a trained audiologist and have a hearing test if you have either kidney or heart disease. If you have hearing loss, then the reverse is also true, and you may be at risk of kidney or heart disease.

Permanent hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds has no cure, meaning it's vital that you take good care of your hearing health at all times. You can prevent it by using earplugs whenever you're exposed to loud sounds, such as at a concert. By being more mindful of the sounds you're exposed to, you can limit the risks of hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss

Sudden hearing loss is a common form of hearing loss that often happens due to an infection, impacted earwax or fluid buildup in the ears. This can also happen when you take high doses of certain medications such as aspirin or intravenous antibiotics.

In most cases, steroids can be administered to reduce the inflammation and prevent swelling of the auditory nerve. This will help prevent permanent hearing loss, which can be caused by the use of certain drugs, infection or even a virus. If you experience sudden hearing loss, then it's best to speak to a professional audiologist as soon as possible. In some circumstances, sudden hearing loss can also be the sign of a tumor pressing on the auditory nerve, hence the importance of speaking to a professional as soon as possible.

Hearing loss accompanied by dizziness and nausea

Our ears do a lot more than just process sounds–they also help us keep our balance. If you have hearing loss, then it's common also to feel dizziness or even nausea when you get up from a sitting or lying position. This could also be a sign of Ménière's disease, an uncommon condition that affects the composition of endolymph, a fluid in the inner ear.

This condition can be treated by visiting your audiologist who will first diagnose it and then offer suggestions, such as a change to a low-sodium diet or prescribing certain medication to reduce inflammation. The excess fluid can also be drained in some circumstances if the audiologist feels that it can help.

Contact a professional audiologist

If you'd like to learn more about hearing loss or want to book a consultation with a professional audiologist, don't hesitate to get in touch with Gavin Audiology and Hearing Aids at 914-631-8777. You'll be put through to one of our friendly team members who will be able to guide you further and assist with your hearing loss concerns.