Have you ever felt that sounds may seem loud enough, but not clear and you frequently need to ask for repetition? You may discover that you hear better while facing the speaker or need to be close to the person speaking. It becomes problematic to listen to what is said in group communications when there is any background noise. You may find locating the source or direction of sounds challenging. If you find yourself caught in even few such situations, then it is quite certain that you are facing hearing problems. According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports, about 25 percent of individuals above 65 years of age experience hearing loss. Hearing problems occur when you are unable to partially or entirely hear sound in one or both of your ears.
What Can Cause Hearing Problems?
- Age is the biggest cause of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis is a reduction in hearing ability which grows simultaneously with increasing age. As you live longer, your probability to experience hearing problems is high. It is also estimated that after the age of 60 every one person in four, and over the age of 70, every one person in two experience problem in hearing. By the age of 80, most people have significant hearing problems.
- Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by persistent exposure to loud noise. Repeated overexposure to every day sounds like traffic, noisy office environments or loud music and construction work can negatively impact your hearing making it harder for the ears to recover between events, explains Dr. Nikita Deshmukh, ENT Surgeon, Apollo clinic Kondapur, Hyderabad. The doctor further cites the report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to this report, one out of 10 people aged 6-19 suffer from permanent hearing damage due to excessive exposure to loud music from headphones, rock concerts, stereos, night clubs and discos. The louder the noise, the shorter time you should be exposed to it.
- The buildup of naturally produced wax called cerumen in the ear canal is another possible cause. You may feel a very noticeable hearing loss on complete wax coverage in the ear canal. Despite that, wax can easily be removed by a physician; many people use hairpins, matchsticks, or cotton swabs in an attempt to clean the ear canal which leads to deeper wax penetration into the canal beyond the point of its natural occurrence.
- Certain medications and treatments can also cause an irreversible hearing loss, such as radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer or jaw surgery causing eustachian tube dysfunctioning. Some types of drugs, including some antibiotics, large amounts of aspirin, chemotherapy drugs (carboplatin, cisplatin), and Vicodin (in large amounts), can cause hearing loss. Sometimes hearing will return once you stop taking the drug but the effect may be permanent too.
- Infection in the middle ear can cause lead to fluid secretion in the ear cavity which can lead to a temporary hearing loss. Viral infections of the inner ear and auditory nerves, such as mumps, measles or rubella.
- Otosclerosis is an abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear which affects the mobility and effectiveness of the inner hearing bone and transmitting sound.
- Perforations of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) where the eardrum is torn or has a hole in it can also lead to a conductive hearing loss.
- Few genetic abnormalities also cause some people to be born deaf or become deaf over time.
- Few autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Cogan’s syndrome, Wegener’s granulomatosis, Behcet’s disease, Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuroma, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis paraganglioma, and meningioma may affect hearing.
- Sometimes, cold or a sinus infection might also lead to some hearing loss. You may also experience a minor degree of hearing loss if you fly or travel in the mountains because of the difference in pressure between the air in the middle ear and the outside air.