Top 7 Things You need to Know about Hearing Loss

  • Hearing loss is considered to be the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. It is also a major public health issue, since nearly 60{754741679431ceb09efae6e94320565469f785b1bbff1b66db1121ae80245ef8} of hearing loss patients are either in the workforce or in educational settings.
  • Hearing loss may be sudden, gradual or congenital. Sudden hearing loss is often noise-induced and can occur due to exposure to an excessively hazardous level of noise. For example, sudden noise-induced hearing from gunfire and explosions is the number one disability caused by combat in current wars.
  • Congenital (from birth) hearing loss that occurs in some children has a genetic cause. There are 400 known causes of genetic hearing loss, out of which most occur without any other symptoms apart from hearing loss.

  • Referred to as an “invisible condition,” hearing loss has symptoms that cannot be seen. You can only notice its effects, which are often confused with aloofness, confusion or personality changes.
  • In adults, hearing loss increases with age and is often confused with, or complicates, such conditions as dementia. Age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, is characterized by changes in the inner ear that happen as you get older and cause a slow but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe, but it is always permanent.
  • Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is a common companion of hearing loss. It is often considered to be just as debilitating as hearing loss itself, as patients seek medical assistance to deal with this irksome condition.
  • If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline. One of the best ways to prevent this is by using hearing aids.  These small instruments can be worn outside or inside the ear (almost invisible to the outside world) and help patients hear accurately and combat symptoms like tinnitus.

 

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Sensorineural hearing loss and It’s Causes

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

A sensorineural hearing loss happens when there is damage in your inner ear. Audiologists can help if you have this type of hearing loss.

What are the signs?

When present in both ears, sensorineural hearing loss will mean you may have difficulty understanding, even when speech seems loud enough. When in one ear, you may have difficulty locating sounds or hearing in background noise.

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss

  • Noise exposure – Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by loud noise exposure, which can lead to damage
  • in the inner ear
    Aging – Aging is a main cause of all types of hearing loss – and therefore also sensorineural hearing loss
    Illnesses and conditions – Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by several health conditions including:
    meningitis, Ménière’s disease, acoustic neuroma, multiple sclerosis, and malformation of the inner ear
  • Genetic or hereditary conditions – Genetic sensorineural hearing loss may affect infants from birth or develop later in life
  • Head trauma – Injuries to the head can cause damage to the inner ear, which in turn causes sensorineural hearing loss
  • Drugs and medication – Sensorineural hearing loss can be a side-effect of certain medications and cancer treatment
  • Congenital and birth-related hearing loss – Injections during pregnancy, complications during birth, premature birth, and hereditary predispositions can all cause sensorineural hearing loss in newborns
  • Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss
  • There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss, but hearing aids can help people with sensorineural hearing loss to hear better. The best way to diagnose and treat sensorineural hearing loss is to visit a hearing professional for a full hearing evaluation.

 

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Tips For Preventing hearing loss

It’s not always possible to prevent hearing loss, but there are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of damaging your hearing.

 Avoid Too Much Noise

How loud is too loud? If you have to shout over the noise around you, it’s loud enough to damage your hearing. Sounds from motorcycles, concert speakers, power tools like saws and drills, earphones, and more are all loud enough to make a difference.

Limit Loud Sounds in Your Life

Sometimes you can’t avoid the blare of an ambulance siren or the jackhammer on your street corner. But it’s best to limit the amount of time you’re around them. Noise-induced hearing loss is a result of the loudness of sounds and how long you hear them.

Wear Hearing Protection

wearing ear protection (such as ear defenders) if you work in a noisy environment, such as a garage workshop or a building site; special vented earplugs that allow some noise in are also available for musicians

Don’t Smoke

Tobacco can make you more likely to lose your hearing, too, research shows. So if you light up, that’s one more good reason to quit. If you aren’t a smoker, avoid breathing secondhand smoke.

Remove Earwax Properly

A buildup of wax in your ears can muffle sound. But don’t use a cotton swab to clean them out — they can push wax deeper in. Instead, use an at-home irrigation kit to soften wax and gently wash it out. If it gets compacted in your ear, your doctor may need to remove it.

Have Your Hearing Tested

  • Make an appointment to get a hearing test if you:
  • Have close relatives with hearing loss
  • Have trouble hearing conversations
  • Are around loud noises on a regular basis
  • Often hear ringing in your ears

 

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CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the way sound is conducted to the inner ear and a structure called the cochlea. The problem may lie in the ear canal, eardrum (tympanic membrane), or the middle ear (ossicles and Eustachian tube). The inner ear remains unaffected in this type of hearing loss.

Types of conductive hearing loss

There are several types of conductive hearing loss. Some types of conductive hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids. If the Corti organ in the cochlea functions normally, hearing aids can help transmit sound in in the outer or middle ear. Other types of conductive hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically.

What are the symptoms?

People with conductive hearing loss will find soft sounds difficult to hear at all pitches, both low and high.

  • That sounds are muffled
  • That sounds are very low or quiet

Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

  • Some causes of conductive hearing loss can include:
  • Fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies.
  • Ear infection, or otitis media. Otitis is a term used to mean ear infection, and media means middle.
  • Poor Eustachian tube function. The Eustachian tube connects your middle ear and your nose. Fluid in the middle ear can drain out through this tube. Fluid can stay in the middle ear if the tube does not work correctly.
  • A hole in your eardrum.
  • Benign tumors. These tumors are not cancer but can block the outer or middle ear.
  • Accumulation of ear wax
  • Infection in the ear canal, called external otitis. You may hear this called swimmer’s ear.
  • An object stuck in your outer ear. An example might be if your child put a pebble in his ear when playing outside.
  • A problem with how the outer or middle ear is formed. Some people are born without an outer ear. Some may have a deformed ear canal or have a problem with the bones in their middle ear.
  • Cholesteatoma – A growth in the middle ear
  • Otosclerosis – An abnormal bone growth near the middle ear.

 

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What Can I do About My Tinnitus?

You can go to a doctor in case your tinnitus is due to something that can be fixed or treated easily.

You can try one or more remedies recommended by tinnitus patients – vitamin B12, magnesium, caffeine, ginkgo biloba withdrawal and paracetamol – for each of these, you will find people who swear it reduces their tinnitus. And you can certainly avoid wasting your money on the countless “tinnitus cure” scams ran by unscrupulous assholes all over the Web.

Other than that, there is currently no proven method of rewiring your brain to make “unexplained” tinnitus disappear completely and permanently. There are therapies that can lessen tinnitus or even make it disappear (Xanax, notched music therapy), but their effect is temporary.However, you can do two very important things:

1.You can learn not to notice the noise.
2.You can stop the noise from bothering you.

If you achieve these two goals, tinnitus will be no more of a problem for you than the color of the walls in your apartment. It will still be noticeable, if you choose to notice it, but it will not be an issue.

Dr Stephen M. Nagler describes this beautifully in his introduction to Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

TRT is not a cure for tinnitus.  It is a treatment approach designed with the goal of tinnitus ceasing to be an issue in the patient’s life.  It is designed with the goal of making tinnitus into a pair of pants.  Ninety percent of the time, people are unaware of their pants.  The 10{754741679431ceb09efae6e94320565469f785b1bbff1b66db1121ae80245ef8} of the time they are aware, they do not “cope” with their pants, they do not “deal” with their pants, they do not “learn to live” with their pants, and they most certainly do not spend any time worrying whether the following day will be a “good pants day” or a “bad pants day.”  They simply wear their pants; and when the goal of TRT has been met, tinnitus should be just like that!

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How Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) Works

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy

Let’s break TRT down into two parts, the first part addressing the actual sound tinnitus produces and the other part dealing with the emotional and behavioral repercussions.

 

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy is the use of external sound to “mask” the internal sound of tinnitus. This mitigates tinnitus on a number of levels.

First, the external sound can partially or completely cover the tinnitus sounds, and can also divert the patient’s attention, while the sound is being played. This can provide immediate relief.

Second, sound therapy can result in what is called “habituation,” where the brain is trained over time to reclassify the tinnitus as an unimportant sound that should be ignored.

Third, the use of specialized sound minimizes the hyperactivity in the brain thought to be the underlying mechanism of tinnitus. This is called “neuromodulation.”

Sound therapy therefore has both short-term and long-term benefits, and works on multiple levels to mitigate the severity of symptoms. Sound therapy can be delivered through special sound masking devices, headphones, and even hearing aids.

While any sound can theoretically provide the masking effect, specialized medical-grade devices deliver customized sounds or music programmed to match the characteristics of the patient’s tinnitus. Your hearing care professional can help you select the right device and sound.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In addition to sound therapy, TRT also employs behavioral therapies that address the second, emotional component of tinnitus. In ways, this is the more critical component, as tinnitus can trigger strong emotional reactions like anxiety, depression, and anger. This can prove to be much more problematic than the ringing of tinnitus itself.

Research in this area has led to some surprising conclusions. For example, studies have found no correlation between the loudness/pitch of tinnitus and patient-reported distress. Whether or not tinnitus is viewed as no-big-deal, slightly bothersome, or devastating is largely dependent on the cognitive/behavioral response of the patient.

Behavioral therapy can be delivered one-on-one or in groups, from a clinic or over the phone or internet from the patient’s home. Therapy includes education, identifying tinnitus triggers, instituting healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate symptoms, and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

 

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Tinnitus Remedies

Hearing aids

Most people develop tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss. When you lose hearing, your brain undergoes changes in the way it processes sound frequencies. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that uses a microphone, amplifier, and speaker to increase the volume of external noises. This can mollify neuroplastic changes in the brain’s ability to process sound.

If you have tinnitus, you may find that the better you hear, the less you notice your tinnitus. A 2007 survey of healthcare providers published in The Hearing Review, found that roughly 60 percent of people with tinnitus experienced at least some relief from a hearing aid. Roughly 22 percent found significant relief.

 Sound-masking devices

Sound-masking devices provide a pleasant or benign external noise that partially drowns out the internal sound of tinnitus. The traditional sound-masking device is a tabletop sound machine, but there are also small electronic devices that fit in the ear. These devices can play white noise, pink noise, nature noises, music, or other ambient sounds. Most people prefer a level of external sound that is just slightly louder than their tinnitus, but others prefer a masking sound that completely drowns out the ringing.

Some people use commercial sound machines designed to help people relax or fall asleep. You can also use headphones, television, music, or even a fan.

A 2017 study in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that masking was most effective when using broadband noise, such as white noise or pink noise. Nature sounds proved much less effective.

 Modified or customized sound machines

Standard masking devices help to mask the sound of tinnitus while you are using them, but they have no long-lasting effects. Modern medical-grade devices use customized sounds tailored specifically to your tinnitus. Unlike regular sound machines, these devices are only worn intermittently. You may experience benefits long after the device is turned off, and over time, you may experience long-term improvement in the perceived loudness of your tinnitus.

 Behavioral therapy

Tinnitus is associated with a high level of emotional stress. Depression, anxiety, and insomnia are not uncommon in people with tinnitus. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps people with tinnitus learn to live with their condition. Rather than reducing the sound itself, CBT teaches you how to accept it. The goal is to improve your quality of life and prevent tinnitus from driving you crazy.

CBT involves working with a therapist or counselor, typically once per week, to identify and change negative thought patterns. CBT was initially developed as a treatment for depression and other psychological problems, but it seems to work well for people with tinnitus. Several studies and meta-reviews, including one published in the Korean Journal of Audiology, have found that CBT significantly improves irritation and annoyance that often comes with tinnitus.

 Progressive tinnitus management

Progressive tinnitus management (PTM) is a therapeutic treatment program offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Tinnitus is one of the most common disabilities seen in veterans of the armed services. The loud noises of war (and training) often lead to noise-induced hearing loss.

If you’re a veteran, talk to your local VA hospital about their tinnitus treatment programs. You may want to consult the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) at the VA. They have a step-by-step tinnitus workbook and educational materials that may be helpful.

 Exercise

Exercise contributes significantly to your overall well-being. Tinnitus can be aggravated by stress, depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and illness. Regular exercise will help you manage stress, sleep better, and stay healthier.

altered perceptions of their tinnitus. This included a reduction in depression and anxiety.

DIY mindfulness meditation

You don’t need to enroll in an eight-week program to get started with mindfulness training. Participants in the MBTSR program all received a copy of the groundbreaking book “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn’s book is the premier manual for practicing mindfulness in daily life. You will learn about, and be encouraged to practice, meditation and breathing techniques that can help draw your focus away from tinnitus.

 Alternative treatments

There are several alternative or complementary tinnitus treatment options, including:

  • nutritional supplements
  • homeopathic remedies
  • acupuncture
  • hypnosis

None of these treatment options are supported by science. Many people are convinced that the herb gingko biloba is helpful, however large-scale studies have been unable to prove this. There are many nutritional supplements claiming to be tinnitus remedies. These are usually a combination of herbs and vitamins, often including zinc, ginkgo, and vitamin B-12.

These dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not supported by scientific research. However, anecdotal reports suggest that they may help some people.

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