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Hearing loss: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About hearing loss in adults

Hearing loss is defined as the inability to hear sound. This results from affliction of the ear, which is an organ of hearing and maintaining equilibrium. The ear is divided into various parts namely the external ear (pinna), the ear canal which joins the external ear with the middle ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. Hearing loss may arise from disruption in the external, the middle or the inner ear.

Hearing loss in adults: Incidence, age and sex

Hearing loss in adults is not a common condition in the general population. It can occur in any age group and no gender bias is obvious. However, it is physiologically more common in older adults.

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss in adults: Diagnosis

Hearing loss can either affect one or even both ears depending upon the underlying cause and it can either be partial or complete. Hearing loss can be of two kinds - namely ‘conductive’ and ‘sensori-neural’ hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss results in disruption in the conduction of sound between external and middle ear. This usually affects one ear and is reversible in most of the conditions. Sensori-neural hearing loss results from damage to inner ear or auditory nerve. Auditory nerve is responsible for transmitting nerve impulses between brain and inner ear. The occurrence of hearing loss is mostly slow in onset but sudden onset may also be seen in few instances. The appearance of associated clinical features like ear pain and ringing in the ears depend upon the underlying ear ailment.

It is advisable to consult an ear specialist who shall conduct a comprehensive ear examination including hearing tests. The measurement of hearing impairment is assessed by amount of degree of loss in decibels.

Causes and prevention of hearing loss in adults

There are various causes of hearing loss like infection of external, middle or inner ear, perforation of ear drum and ear wax. Traumatic cause like fracture of skull may also lead to hearing loss in an individual. Not only this, damage to auditory nerve may result in sensori-neural deafness. Regular cleaning or ear wax may prevent conductive hearing loss which occurs due to clogged ear canal.

Hearing loss in adults: Complications

The complications of hearing loss usually arise from underlying ailments. Hearing loss in itself may hamper an individual’s work and social life.

Hearing loss in adults: Treatment

The treatment of hearing loss depends upon the ear ailment it has occurred due to. Hearing loss due to ear infections may improve with antibiotic medications. Wax softeners like medicated ear drops or glycerine may be used in cases of hard wax obstructing the ear canal. Irrigation of ears with warm water may also help in removing ear wax and improving hearing. Irreversible and permanent hearing loss may require hearing aids which help in amplifying sound. Hearing loss may be reversible or irreversible; thus its outlook depends upon the causative ailment.