Hearing loss is common in our current society. It’s easy to come across someone wearing a hearing aid device. But what causes hearing loss?
Let’s start by defining what hearing loss is;
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is a disorder that occurs when there’s an impairment between your ears and brain. The impairment can result from different reasons;
- Damage to your inner ear
- Wax build-up in the ear
- It can be hereditary
- Infections for instance sinus infections
- Rupture to your eardrum among others
To get a better understanding of hearing loss, you’ll have to understand the process of hearing.
The Process of Hearing
Basically, each part of our body is adapted to its function. For instance, our eyes can convert light to something we can understand since it has visual adaptations. Also, our ears are adapted to converting sound waves into a language that our brain can understand. That’s only a scratch of the process of hearing. There is a whole lot of activities involved.
The ear consists of 3 main parts; inner, middle and outer ear. The outer ear is made in such a way that it can pick up optimum amounts of sound waves. That’s why whenever you want to eavesdrop, you’ll make a curve with your hands to enhance your hearing. That helps to collect the low levels of sound.
These waves are transmitted to the eardrum which then vibrates to convert the waves into vibrations. More to that, the eardrum in collaboration with other parts of the middle ear amplify the vibrations on their way to the inner ear.
At the inner ear, the vibrations travel through a fluid in a shell-shaped part known as the cochlea. Here, the cochlea is attached to numerous small hairs which convert the vibrations to electric signals that are then transmitted to the brain for interpretation. Imagine this entire process happens in microseconds!
Each sound has a different effect on the tiny hairs. That’s how we can tell the difference in sounds. With that in mind, let’s move on to the causes of hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
- Damage to the inner ear
- Ruptured Eardrums
- Wax Build-up
Loud noise and aging may result to tear of the hairs in your ear and the nerve cells. When the nerve endings are missing or have undergone some damage, the transmission of the electric impulses isn’t as effective as before. This then leads to hearing complications. You might find it difficult to pick up sounds when there’s some background interference once your inner ear is damaged.
The eardrum is responsible for the conversion of sound waves to vibrations. When the tympanic membrane (eardrum) is ruptured, it won’t function as efficiently as possible. Some of the causes of eardrum rupture include; loud noise, changes in pressure, accidental poking of the eardrums or infections.
Wax is very important to the health of your ear. It prevents dust, bacteria, or any other foreign material from reaching the inner part of your ear. Wax also helps protect some of the delicate organs in your ear. Normally, the wax will find its way to the outer ear and fall off. However, in some rare cases, you may end up having a wax blockage in your ear.
That’s because there is an overproduction of wax which hardens and forms a blockage in your canal. In most cases, the general hygiene of your ear may be the cause of the blockage or you accidentally ended up pushing the wax deeper inside. All in all, wax blockage will result in hearing loss.
In case you have an infection that causes a tumor in your ear, excess pressure or bone growth, you are likely to suffer from temporary hearing loss. As soon as the infection is treated, you will be able to hear again.
An example of an infection in your ear includes sinus infection.
What is a Sinus Infection?
In simple terms, a sinus infection is an inflammation that occurs in your sinus cavity. The feeling is quite unpleasant. You may experience unbearable pain at the back of your eyes, forehead or cheek. The worst part is that you are likely to experience hearing loss.
This infection can be caused by either a swelling or an allergic reaction. When the sinus infection starts to affect your ear, it means that the condition is spreading to the middle ear. It also means that the inflammation has caused a build-up of fluid in your eardrum which leads to pain in your ear and temporary hearing loss.
All in all, when the pressure and the fluid are treated, you should be able to hear again perfectly. If the fluid in the ear doesn’t drain especially in children, the condition is likely to cause pressure on your eardrum which leads to permanent hearing loss.
Sinus infection is treatable. Therefore, it’s important to get immediate help if you are experiencing any symptoms before it results to further complications.
In conclusion, I hope you now know some of the potential causes of hearing loss. There are situations where you are unable to control your hearing problem for instance if it is hereditary. On the other hand, in cases like sinus infections, it is important to go for an immediate treatment.