Going deaf is extremely hard to cope with. Yet every year millions of people across the world, lose their hearing and go deaf and tens of thousands are born with severe hearing impairments. It is a big problem for the world’s population and is an issue that affects all parts of the globe in equal measure.
Here we look at hearing loss as a whole and consider what can be done if you are suffering hearing loss.
Hearing loss Statistics
First heres the stats on profound hearing loss or deafness:
70 million – the number of deaf people in the world
0.36% – percentage of people in the world who are deaf in both ears
0.46% – percentage of people who cannot hear enough speech to understand
Next, there’s hearing loss that is not complete, but none the less makes it hard to live a normal life:
360 million – the number of people in the world with disabling hearing loss
5% – the percentage of people with serious hearing loss issues
328 million – the number of adults with debilitating hearing loss
32 million – the number of children with debilitating hearing loss
One third – the number of people aged over 65 with some form of hearing loss
Causes of Hearing Loss
The causes of hearing loss are many and varied, but the break down into the following main causal groups:
Genetic or congenital
These conditions are inherited or develop in the womb. Occasionally they are caused by complications at birth such as a lack of oxygen. The child either is deaf from the start or becomes so in the first weeks or months after birth.
Also in this category, are diseases acquired or suffered by the mother while pregnant. This includes rubella or syphilis. Severe jaundice during pregnancy is another cause. Certain drugs can also cause deafness in the developing child, for example cytotoxic or ototoxic drugs.
Serious diseases such as meningitis can lead to deafness, but so can common ones like measles and mumps. Even an untreated ear infection can result in deafness.
Head injuries have been known to lead to deafness.
Exposure to noise
Exposure to loud noise or music can cause severe hearing loss.
The ageing process
The most common cause of hearing loss is age related changes to the body.
Common Types of Hearing Loss
Here is a bit more information about the common forms of hearing loss that mainly affects older people. These types of hearing loss have the potential to be helped by commercially available hearing amplifiers and aids.
Age related hearing loss and deafness
To date, nobody has found a way to prevent this kind of hearing loss. This is mainly because why people lose their hearing as they age is not yet fully understood.
Many of the health conditions that older people suffer from contribute. High blood pressure and circulatory diseases are thought to trigger hearing loss in many. In addition, many of today’s older population will have been exposed to prolonged loud noise, at work or when enjoying music during their earlier life, so that is also a possible underlying cause.
Older people gradually lose the ability to hear and understand in one of three different ways. Here they are:
Sensorineural hearing loss – this is the most common form. When the pathways or components of the ear become damaged or change shape the sound waves are not picked up properly. This means they cannot be interpreted properly by the brain.
Conductive hearing loss – anything that blocks the ear or interferes with the transmission of sound into the ear leads to conductive hearing loss. Sometimes wax or fluid does this other times it is small deposits and cysts. Hardening of the bones in the ear can also lead to this kind of hearing loss.
Other health issues – some health issues like stroke and MS can cause either sensorineural or conductive hearing loss. Diseases of the mind like dementia can make it harder for older people to interpret what is being said to them. Some diseases that affect cognitive function make it hard for people with good hearing to interpret what is being said.
Symptoms and Treatments for hearing loss
With all hearing loss spotting it early and getting a proper diagnosis is the best approach. Some of the underlying causes of hearing loss can be treated, and easily. Wax or fluid build up are two examples. Improving circulation to the ear can slow the progression of hearing loss.
This is why we repeatedly remind our readers of the need to see a doctor if they are losing their hearing. Buying a hearing device can make a world of difference to how well you hear, but you need a proper diagnosis before you buy one to make sure that your hearing loss does not require treatment and a medical grade hearing aid.
These are the early symptoms of hearing loss:
- Not hearing the dawn chorus
- Turning the volume up on your TV and other entertainment devices
- Not hearing the phone or doorbell
- Having to ask people to repeat themselves
- Feeling more tired or stressed for no apparent reason due to having to concentrate hard.
If you have any of these symptoms, we recommend that you get a hearing test done as soon as possible. Try to resist the temptation to ignore it and cope. Many people do this, it is only natural, but taking this approach only delays treatment.