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Hearing Loss - Overview

Hearing loss is a medical condition that may affect people of all ages. It is estimated that one third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 75 are suffering from hearing loss. Furthermore, almost half of the people older than the age of 75 suffer from a certain degree of hearing loss.

Many experts believe that chronic exposure to loud noises represents the main cause of hearing loss. There are additional factors which contribute to the condition and ear blockage is only one of them. Unfortunately, hearing loss is irreversible.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be classified as conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing LossConductive hearing loss is caused by blockage or certain damage of the outer or middle ear. This is a type of hearing loss which can be successfully treated with either conservative therapies or surgery. Conductive hearing loss is congenital or acquired. In majority of people conductive hearing loss develops as a consequence of blockage of the outer ear due to impacted wax or foreign objects, outer ear infections, middle ear infections, perforated eardrum, otosclerosis and partial or total closure of the ear canal.

Sensorineural Hearing LossSensorineural hearing loss develops as a consequence of malfunction of the cochlea or the hearing nerve. Even this type of hearing loss can be either congenital or acquired. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include the process of aging, excessive and chronic exposure to noise, certain illnesses (meningitis, Meniere's disease etc), viral infections (mumps, measles etc), intake of certain medications and head injuries. Apart from the previously mentioned acquired sensorineural hearing loss, congenital sensorineural hearing loss can be inherited, occur due to prematurity and caused by some intrauterine infection (rubella or cytomegalovirus).

Mixed Hearing LossMixed hearing loss represents a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. For example, a mixed hearing loss occurs if there is a conductive hearing loss caused by a middle ear infection and a sensorineural hearing loss caused by the process of aging.

What are Warning Signs of Hearing Loss?

The person may hear but he/ she is simply not able to understand. One may also find it difficult to hear in noise or a group of people. Furthermore, there may be a problem regarding understanding people unless they are faced directly. One may have a feeling that other people mumble or slur words. A person suffering from hearing loss turns television or radio louder than healthy people. And it is also possible that a person may not hear the door bell ring or the phone ring. And finally, one may suffer from tinnitus.

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