we think of hearing loss as an issue that starts in adulthood and only
affects adults. While hearing loss affects the elderly the most, it is
something that can affect every age and that can begin as early as birth
or as an infant.
infections are a common childhood ailment within the first months or
years of life, because the immune system and ear canal are still
developing and fluids can more easily become trapped in the ear canal
causing infection. As long as ear infections are resolved quickly, there
is usually no lasting damage, but if they go on for too long, or they
are too frequent, sometimes hearing issues can result.
overwhelming majority of hearing loss does occur in the elderly,
however, and can get worse as we age unless we do something about it.
This is why yearly hearing screenings at your doctor’s or audiologist’s
office are so important. The earlier hearing loss is caught, the earlier
your doctor can intervene and halt the progression.
Here are the most common types of hearing loss, how you can recognize them and what you can do about it.
Congenital Hearing Loss
As the name indicates, congenital hearing loss affects hearing from birth, and will affect the sufferer throughout his or her lifetime.
hearing loss is often passed down from other members of the family who
are impacted by it, or it can happen due to complications during labor
and delivery as an infant.
genetic syndromes can also affect hearing, including Down Syndrome,
Treacher Collins, and Usher Syndromes. Sickness of the mother during
pregnancy, such as herpes, rubella, toxoplasmosis, cytomegolavirus or
German measles can also result in a congenital hearing defect for the
child she is carrying.
Otitis Media is the most common type of hearing loss and it involves inflammation of the middle ear, which can result in a gradual build-up of fluid in the ear that sometimes leads to a viral infection we call an “ear infection.”
ear infections occur in children under 7 years old. The child will
complain of ear pain or discomfort, and babies may pull at their ears. A
mild fever, irritability and crying may be other indications an ear
infection is present.
loss due to otitis media is almost always temporary, as it is due to
the build-up of fluid in the ear, which will usually drain as the
infection is resolved.
Damaged Ear Drum
The ear drum is a very thin membrane separating the middle ear from the inner ear, and it is surprisingly easy to damage it with a very loud noise or even with a cotton swab.
a damaged eardrum usually heals without any intervention. The rate of
healing can depend on the cleanliness and health of the ear (more
moisture in the ear can cause it to heal more slowly).
In the most ideal conditions, fully healing a damaged eardrum may take several weeks.
Swimmer’s ear is a build-up of water or moisture in the ear, which causes the inner ear to become irritated and swollen. Surprisingly, Swimmer’s Ear is not always caused by swimming: it can happen for any reason. Very rainy, foggy or humid weather can sometimes cause this buildup of moisture in the ear canal and lead to Swimmer’s Ear as well.
Ear can also happen over time, so if you are feeling it get worse, see
your doctor or audiologist to help you clear the excess moisture,
because cotton swabs probably won’t work.
Glue ear is a condition in which sticky, thick residue builds up in the middle section of the ear and blocks normal hearing. To the sufferer, it may feel like something has been pushed into the ear just out of reach.
ear can go away on its own, but it does not always resolve itself. It
can be challenging if a young child has it because babies and toddlers
lack the words to express what is bothering them, so it may be difficult
it causes a temporary hearing loss, glue ear can also interfere with
development during these formative years if it is not resolved or
Excessive Ear Wax
While glue ear is more common among children, excessive ear wax build-up is more common among adults. Excessive ear wax will rarely lead to any other health issues, but it may require drops that help to thin out the ear wax so it can be expelled by the body.
you frequently experience excessive ear wax, you may want to explore
alternative options for cleaning your ears, such as a syringe that can
remove ear wax build up.
Otitis externa is similar to otitis media as it is an infection in the outer part of the ear, instead of the middle part. Otitis externa is most often caused by exposure to a bacteria from polluted waters, like in a polluted lake or swimming hole.
of otitis externa may include irritation, pain and itching of the outer
section of the ear, and the tissue may become swollen.
otitis externa is easily treated: often it resolves on its own, or more
severe cases can be treated with antibiotics.
Sometimes medications or exposure to certain chemicals can cause temporary or even permanent hearing loss. The type of medication that can affect hearing are called ototoxic medications.
types of medication can affect hearing loss short-term, most commonly
NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin. These hearing issues
usually resolve when the medication is stopped. Some antibiotics can
also cause permanent hearing loss, and for that reason they are only
used in life-threatening situations.
Acquired Hearing Loss
And finally, the type of hearing loss we most often think of is acquired hearing loss, which can result from severe or frequent exposure to loud noises. Continually listening to very loud music or other loud noise, or even a noisy work environment can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss over time.
causes of acquired hearing loss are chronic untreated ear infections,
meningitis, whooping cough, damaged ear drum, chicken pox, measles,
mumps, and even a bad case of the flu. The good news for these types of
hearing loss is that they are most often temporary and will resolve
themselves with the infection.
at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health.
Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.