Damage to our auditory system can come in many ways, but you have the power to protect your ears from hearing loss. High decibel noise, accidents, genetics, and many more situations can lead to damage and complications in the ear. The severity and duration of hearing loss symptoms rely on a wide range of causes. Learn how hearing loss can occur, how symptoms of hearing loss can affect you, and how to tell if hearing loss is permanent or temporary.   

What is Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is the decreased function or total inability of the ear to intake sound from the external environment and relay it to the brain. This loss of hearing ability can be the result of many complications or situations, from work environment to damage from an accident. Whatever the cause, hearing loss can have a vast impact on those affected.   

How Does Hearing Loss Occur?

There is no one common cause of hearing loss. There are a variety of factors throughout life that can have an effect on our hearing. The cause of hearing loss most often indicates the type and duration that hearing loss will have.  

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Our ears are only able to intake certain decibel levels for certain periods of time. The degree of decibels a sound produces puts our ears at risk of intense sound pressure on the workings of the inner ear. Noise-induced hearing loss can become a problem when you are in an environment with noise decibels over 70 dBA for prolonged periods of time. This can be a loud work environment or a noisy event, like a concert or sports games. The severity of the noise, as well as the amount of time spent exposed, can determine how much damage the noise can cause to your hearing. 

Medical Hearing Loss

There are a few ways that medical situations can cause hearing loss. First, illness can affect our hearing when the head or ear is directly affected but the illness. Most commonly found in children, an ear infection can commonly lead to muffled or trouble hearing, depending on the severity of the illness.  Some viral infections can also lead to hearing loss. For example, the Mumps is known to lead to damage in hearing to those it affects. 

Other medical conditions that can lead to hearing loss are diagnosed earlier in life. Some conditions, like genetic disorders, autoimmune diseases, or Meniere’s disease can lead to hearing loss as the progress in someone’s life. 

Head Trauma Hearing Loss

Once a noise and its sound vibrations enter the ear, the inner workings begin to move the waves down the ear canal. Once the waves make it to the inner ear, the sound information is sent to the brain. A head trauma related situation, like a car accident or concussion, can sometimes lead to hearing loss due to the damage done to the brain or the workings of the ear itself. 

Age-Related Hearing Loss   

Like many other processes, hearing is at risk of effect by age. Statistics show that nearly one third of adults ages 65-75 have some degree of hearing loss. Past the age of 75, that number increases to half the population. Simply as an effect of aging, many will experience trouble hearing and potentially hearing loss as they get older.  

Is Hearing Loss Permanent or Temporary?

Since hearing loss can have many causes, it can also have a variety of different results and symptoms. Some complications that lead to hearing damage only cause temporary hearing trouble that can return with treatment, while other factors lead to loss that is permanent. 

Hearing Loss Symptoms

The most common symptom of hearing loss is obviously the decreased ability for your ear to take in sound waves and noises in the near environment. This can impact the ability to follow conversation, respond to auditory stimuli, or trouble hearing background noise in the environment. Other symptoms of hearing loss include a decreased sensitivity to high pitched noise, Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear, muffled hearing, or dizziness and imbalance. 

Temporary Hearing Loss

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you will want to know if the symptoms will be temporary or permanent. The most effective way to determine the duration of symptoms is to find the cause of your hearing loss. Common causes for temporary hearing loss include ear infections, stress, or exposure to an extremely loud noise. The symptoms of temporary hearing loss can be abrupt in their appearance. When you become ill or are exposed to a sudden loud noise, like an explosion or a gunshot, the hearing damage will typically follow also immediately. With treatment and time, the symptoms of temporary hearing loss should fade.The duration of temporary hearing loss is determined by the severity of the damage.  

Permanent Hearing Loss

Permanent hearing loss comes in a different form and usually develops over time. Common causes of permanent hearing loss include age-related hearing loss, medical disorders, head trauma, or prolonged exposure to high decibel noise. Unlike temporary hearing loss, the symptoms with this type will typically develop more slowly over time. While symptoms can occasionally be lessened in severity by treatment or therapy, they will never completely go away.   

How to Treat Hearing Loss?

Treatment for hearing loss will be tied to the symptoms experienced and the cause of the hearing loss. While there are some treatments that can aid with a wide variety of hearing trouble, some treatments are more targeted. 

Diagnosis

When you experience symptoms of hearing loss, see a medical professional immediately. Hearing loss can be diagnosed through a change in regular hearing exams and evaluations, but most often, symptoms are noticed by patients in everyday life. 

Treatments

For general hearing loss symptoms, there are a few common treatments developed to help with everyday situations. When hearing loss is permanent, long-term salutations are the best way to improve quality of life. The most common and popular treatment for hearing loss is the prescription of a hearing aid. While there are many different forms and styles, hearing aids are small devices worn on the outside of the ear that work to amplify the sound waves as they enter the ear.   

For more severe hearing loss symptoms, cochlear implants may be used as a treatment. Where the hearing aid amplifies sound to the damaged portion of the ear, a cochlear implant bypasses the troubled areas and stimulates movement in the hearing nerve artificially. 

Some temporary hearing loss can be helped by surgical treatments. If you experience persistent ear infections or retain fluid in the ear, a drainage tube can be surgically inserted into the ear, hopefully reducing the effect of these causes. For genetic problems or abnormalities in the ear structure or function, some surgeries can restructure the ear to work properly.