Our ability to hear helps define who we are and how we communicate. When everything works as it should, our sense of hearing has the power to inform, entertain and connect us with family and friends. However, when our sense of hearing begins to let us down, even simple conversations can become tiring. Following a discussion with a group of people requires intense effort, and communication can become difficult – all of which can quickly lead to isolation and frustration.
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually, so it is likely that you will not notice that your hearing has deteriorated.
You may notice some of the following signs:
Hearing losses are often described as mild, moderate, severe and profound. Whilst not entirely scientific, this simple approach to categorising hearing loss can be a helpful way to get a sense of your hearing problems.
There are more than 11 million people* in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or one in six of the population.
A professional hearing test is the only way to identify your type of hearing loss, but the information below will help you understand more about the three main types of hearing loss, and some of the factors that contribute to causing these hearing problems.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and occurs when the tiny hair cells of the inner ear are damaged.
Even though sound gets into the inner ear normally, the damaged hair cells are unable to "sense" and provide the required signals to the brain. In most cases the ear's hair cells that can sense sound are damaged. As a result, these damaged hair cells send a distorted message to the brain, making it difficult for you to hear.
Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
Unfortunately, there isn't a medical procedure that can "reverse" sensorineural hearing loss. However, the loss can be helped with amplification using hearing aids, enabling the remaining hair cells to respond with maximum efficiency.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a breakdown in the bio-mechanical transmission of sound to the brain. This is usually the result of there being an issue with the outer and/or middle ear.
Causes of conductive hearing loss can include:
Fortunately, many conductive hearing issues can be medically or surgically treated. If it is, it is likely that they will only require hearing aids for a short period of time while recovering. In some cases, hearing aids aren't even required. If the conductive loss of hearing can't be treated medically, hearing aids are often successfully used to help.
Mixed hearing loss occurs when both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss are present.
There are numerous factors that can impact your hearing, and the treatment you receive will depend on the specific factors responsible for impacting your hearing.
A UK Hearing Care audiologist can help to determine the best way to treat your mixed hearing loss on an individual basis.Before you make an appointment, you can ease the discomfort of dry, itchy or blocked ears using a couple of drops of olive oil or special softening drops from a pharmacy. These drops help to soften the wax, but don't remove it. If wax builds-up, your ears may feel painful and you might experience some hearing loss. Olive oil is a great blocked ear solution – all you need is a couple of drops in the ear canal up to three times a day for a couple of days. Using olive oil or softening drops, before your appointment can also make the removal of ear wax easier too.
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