'Hearing issues start subtly, make sure you look for the early signs'
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First signs of hearing loss
Hearing loss can occur at any age, but usually, our hearing begins to deteriorate as we get older. It can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint exactly when our hearing became less sharp and we miss those early warning signs that could help us to protect our hearing health with support, advice and intervention from an audiologist.
Below we explore what hearing loss is, the first signs of hearing loss, the symptoms of hearing loss, why it happens and what you can do if you have any symptoms. We hope you find this information informative and reassuring.
Types of hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be permanent or it can be temporary. In most cases hearing loss develops over a long period of time, meaning that many people do not realise they are suffering from hearing loss until the loss is quite profound. In some cases, hearing loss is accompanied by tinnitus (whistling noises in the ear), and even vertigo, which is when you feel dizzy. The important thing to remember is that hearing loss affects everyone in a different way
First signs of hearing loss
Those first early signs of hearing loss can be difficult for you to detect, especially if they come on gradually. In most cases, it is family members who will first notice that there may be a problem with your hearing. Some of the early signs that you should look out for are listed below.
Sounds and voices do not seem as clear as they once did, and may seem muffled.
You may misunderstand what people are saying to you. This is usually more noticeable in crowded or busy places.
You notice that you have to ask people to repeat what they have just said.
The volume on the TV or radio needs to be higher than usual so that you can hear it clearly.
You prefer not to use the telephone due to difficulty in holding a conversation.
You find yourself having to concentrate on talking with others.
You now need to read lips, rather than faces as you talk.
Signs of hearing loss in one ear
Sometimes hearing loss can appear in one ear, with the remaining ear being unaffected. The early signs of this type of hearing loss can be a lot more difficult to identify. You may notice that you hear less when facing one particular side, or you may notice that sound just generally seems to be quieter. One of the most common symptoms of hearing loss in one ear is not knowing which direction a sound is being heard, in relation to where you are, so from the left or right. Other signs include difficulty in having a conversation in noisy places such as pubs or shopping centres and finding that speech sounds muffled.
What causes hearing loss?
So what exactly causes hearing loss? There are four main reasons for hearing loss that are explained below.
The inner ear is damaged, which usually occurs with age and when you have been subjected to years of loud noises, either at work or through the use of headphones or background noise. The cochlea has tiny nerve cells that send messages to the brain. When these are damaged then these signals can no longer be sent, resulting in hearing loss. This type of damage usually happens slowly over the years.
A lot of wax in the ear canal can result in gradual hearing loss, as sound waves cannot penetrate through to the inner ear. Fortunately, this type of hearing loss is usually temporary as the wax can be removed.
An ear infection is another big reason for hearing loss. This usually occurs in the middle ear. Once the infection has been cleared up with antibiotics, the hearing should return to normal, if dealt with quickly enough.
A ruptured eardrum is painful and is usually the result of loud and sudden noise or change in air pressure. The eardrum should repair itself in around 4 weeks and hearing will return to normal.
Risk factors associated with hearing loss
There are several risk factors associated with hearing loss. Knowing these factors may help you to recognise early on when there is a problem with your hearing.
Age obviously plays a role in hearing health and hearing loss. The inner ear will suffer wear and tear as we age and this can be made worse when subjected to loud environmental noises.
Genetics can also play a role in hearing loss. So if your mother, father or grandparents suffered from hearing loss, then you are at a greater risk of developing hearing loss.
Your type of job and where you work can also cause gradual hearing loss that leads to the symptoms we discussed above. Working in the construction industry is one high-risk job associated with hearing loss.
Prolonged use of certain medication can also cause hearing loss. These include gentamicin (an antibiotic) and Viagra. Some medications can cause tinnitus and temporary hearing loss, such as loop diuretics (water tablets).
What to do if you have symptoms of hearing loss
So, now you know the first signs of hearing loss, and what causes them. But, what are the next steps? Well, the next step should be to see your GP who will probably then refer you to an audiologist. Just be warned though that this usually entails a long waiting time, which could stretch as far as six months. Another option is to see an independent, local audiologist, who can carry out a hearing assessment and then advise you on the best form of treatment for your particular condition. This treatment will depend on what is causing the hearing loss.
Hearing loss due to building up of ear wax
A build-up of ear wax can be easily treated with irrigation. This is when warm water is poured into the ear canal to flush the wax out. You usually have to put olive oil into the ear first, for several days before this procedure to soften the wax, which makes removal that much easier. Sometimes a gentle vacuum is used. This is painless and is used for more stubborn ear wax.
These are many different types of hearing aid to choose from. All of which amplify sound. The two types available are in-ear and behind the ear hearing aids, and today these devices are incredibly small. Some types of hearing aid can even be made to appear invisible in the ear canal. The style and type of hearing aid can be customised to meet your exact needs.
Many people assume that they simply have to live with hearing loss, but this simply isn’t true. There is so much help and support out there that will enable you to hear as much as possible. One of the first steps is to see an audiologist who can assess your ear health and diagnose any problems that you may have. We offer free audiologist appointments at a time and place that suits you, even in your own home. You can book an appoinitment with us online, via the online form. For further information please do browse our website and don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
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Great progress in the treatment, cure, and prevention of hearing loss.
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I had experienced hearing loss since a teenager but I was really starting to really struggle when out with friends in a noisy bars and restaurants. I bought a pair of hearing aids from Hearing Solutions that are concealed in my ear, they link to my phone so I can control the settings, but also listen to music and have phone calls through them. Best purchase ever.
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