One of the most important sources we use to understand the world around us comes through our sense of hearing. When our ear or auditory system suffers damage, our ability to interpret conversation, intake information, and react to our environment is severely affected. While some hearing loss is permanent, other causes of hearing loss can be treated. With help from a doctor and making the kind of choices that keep your ears safe, you can potentially restore your hearing loss.
What is Hearing Loss?
When a person suffers from hearing loss, it is typically due to damage to the auditory system. Our sense of hearing is generated by a process in the ear. When something in our hearing range creates a noise, it generates sound waves. Those waves move to our outer ear shell before being moved down the ear canal to the inner ear. From there, the waves prompt the eardrum and inner ear bones to vibrate. Finally, the sound information is sent to the brain by the auditory nerve. Damage to any portion of the hearing process can lead to hearing loss.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
There are a range of factors that can lead to hearing loss of any kind. Some hearing damage or loss is caused by factors that leave behind permanent effects. For example, genetic disorders, major illnesses, or age-related factors can lead to hearing loss that does not return. On the other hand, a range of causes for hearing loss come from harmful situations that can be treated and potentially reversed.
Noise-Related Hearing Loss
One of the most common sources of hearing loss comes from exposure to harmful noise levels. For a human ear, sounds at or below 70 decibels are normal and safe for us to take in. Noise above that decibel level can create high pressure on the ear when the sound waves enter. When exposure to harmful decibel levels occurs for extended periods of time or frequently, the workings of the inner ear can be damaged. This can lead to symptoms like muffled hearing, sensitivity to high pitched noise, or hearing loss. While damaging decibel levels aren’t typically encountered in everyday life, some work environments or recreational activities can lead to harmful noise exposure. If exposure is constant, hearing loss can be permanent, but if a high pressure decibel noise is heard unexpectedly, the hearing loss that results can potentially improve.
Illness Related Hearing Loss
While genetic conditions and major illness can lead to permanent hearing loss, there are some medical situations that can damage hearing temporarily. Ear infections, when persistent or frequent, can cause a range of issues for the inner ear. From fluid pressure to auditory nerve damage, ear infections can lead to hearing loss when left untreated.
While not a singular illness, some born defects or abnormalities in the inner ear structure can also lead to hearing risk or loss.
Earwax Build Up
Some causes of hearing loss are more simple than others. There are some forms of hearing loss that stem from easy maintenance issues. Earwax is an essential part of the auditory process and overall ear health, but a build up of too much wax can cause a barrier, slowing down or preventing the flow of sound waves to the inner ear.
Can Hearing Be Restored?
While some hearing loss is permanent, those causes that create temporary symptoms can be restored with treatment. If hearing damage or loss stems from exposure to harmful noise-related situations, earwax build up, or an illness related cause, hearing loss can potentially be restored. With time, treatment, and proactive safety choices that mediate risk in the future, you can take your hearing health into your own hands.
How Long Does It Take for Hearing to Come Back?
The duration of temporary hearing loss depends on the cause of the loss and the level of harmful exposure that lead to hearing damage. Some hearing damage can take time to heal, while other harmful factors can be solved quickly with intervention or surgery.
For noise-related hearing loss from exposure to a high pressure diesel noise, hearing loss can occur almost immediately from the damage caused. For this cause of hearing loss, recovery takes a longer period of thin while the damaged portions of the ear heal. Hearing recovery can occur within a few days or it could take weeks for sensitivity to decrease and hearing to return.
Illness related hearing loss and loss due to abnormalities and wax build up can be treated more quickly than some other factors. When the illness goes away or treatment is administered, some cases show hearing improvement almost immediately.
How to Treat Hearing Loss?
With a variety of hearing loss causes comes a wide range of treatment options for those affected by hearing damage. For more permanent hearing loss, many people seek the help of hearing aids or implants to improve overall hearing ability. Hearing aids are worn on the outside of the ear and amplify sound waves as they enter the ear while implants are surgically placed on the cochlea, manually stimulating movement on the inner ear workings.
For temporary hearing loss, treatments come in a range of forms based on cause. These treatments are aimed at the symptoms created by the damage to help in the healing process.
Hearing loss from noise-related exposure to harmful decibel noise is one issue that heals mostly on its own. The damage to the ear loses its sensitivity and regains its healthy function as the ear heals from exposure.
Those experiencing hearing loss from illness can find a few treatment options available. Ear infections can be caused by fluid retention in the ear. To help prevent further infections and to help clear fluid in the ear, inner ear drains can be surgically implanted.
Ear abnormalities or structural birth defects can also be helped by surgical intervention. Doctors can go inside the ear and restructure damaged areas or reshape deformed portions of the auditory process.
Earwax buildup is the simplest cause of hearing loss to treat. Medical professionals can perform an easy, non-invasive process of removal, creating instant relief from hearing loss.