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Video: Hearing Impairment Symptoms
Deafness: Types & Symptoms
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hearing loss is one of the most common causes of disease-related stress worldwide. There are two main forms of hearing loss, both acute and chronic, and can be triggered by a variety of causes. A distinction is also made between congenital and acquired hearing loss. Hearing impairment often does not just mean a quieter perception of tones and noises, but a frequency-impaired, ie broken and "fragmented" hearing and thus a great effort in understanding. Permanent hearing loss can have massive psychosocial consequences and severely impair the quality of life.
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- What types of hearing loss are there?
- What are the symptoms?
What types of hearing loss are there?
The main types are conductive hearing loss (SLS) and sensorineural hearing loss (SES, sensorineural hearing loss). Mixed forms are also possible. The course can be either acute (maximum three months) or chronic (longer than three months).
Conductive hearing loss
With conductive hearing loss, the sound can no longer be adequately passed on to the inner ear. It occurs when the auditory canal is blocked or the sound-conducting structures are damaged, especially due to changes in the area of the outer or middle ear.
This can be done acutely by:
- increased formation of ear wax (cerumen) or “pushing backwards” when trying to clean;
- Water that has gotten into your ear while bathing or swimming;
- Injuries to the eardrum, for example from explosions, slaps or perforating objects such as cotton swabs or knitting needles;
- Closure of the ear trumpet and negative pressure or fluid in the middle ear, for example in the event of a cold or rapid changes in air pressure (e.g. when flying or diving);
- Otitis media.
Chronically this happens, for example, through:
- chronic otitis media or tube ventilation disorder;
- increased bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis);
- Constrictions from scars, inflammation, or growth;
- congenital malformations of the ear.
Sensory sensation disorder
The sensorineural sensation disorder is based on damage or inadequate function of the cochlea as well as the auditory nerve or the brain. In the latter case, one also speaks of central hearing loss or central sound processing hearing loss.
Acutely, this can be triggered, for example, by the following causes:
- Sudden hearing loss;
- loud noise (e.g. New Year's Eve bangs, shots, explosions, music concerts e.g. heavy metal, rock);
- acute infections that also affect the inner ear (e.g. mumps, measles, scarlet fever, typhoid, AIDS, shingles, etc.);
- Head injuries;
- various diseases such as Menière's disease, kidney dysfunction, vascular changes, diseases of the cervical spine (cervical syndrome), multiple sclerosis;
- extreme stressful situations.
Possible causes of a chronic sensorineural disorder are, for example:
- Aging processes, mostly from around the age of 50 ("old age hearing loss"),
- Long-term exposure to noise, mostly job-related (eg in industry, construction, discos);
- congenital malformations of the ear;
- Diseases such as kidney and thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, vascular changes (arteriosclerosis) and a number of immune and autoimmune diseases;;
- Acoustic neuroma (slowly growing benign tumor on the auditory or equilibrium nerve);
- Menière's disease: pressure increase and thus damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear.
What are the symptoms?
The incidence of hearing loss increases with age. However, young people are increasingly affected by noise pollution. Sensorineural hearing loss has a special position in childhood. One in 1,000 children is affected, half of the cases are hereditary. For more information, see Childhood Hearing Loss.
Many people mistakenly believe that speaking or shouting loudly enables people who are hard of hearing to hear and understand normally. In many cases, however, hearing loss does not just mean a quieter perception of tones and noises, but rather frequency-impaired, ie broken and "fragmented" hearing and thus a great effort in understanding. Words and sentences must be supplemented by combining, meaningful contexts, lip reading, etc. or by constant inquiries. Since the inner ear also contains the organ of equilibrium, changes can lead to dizziness. Often there is also a ringing in the ear (tinnitus).
Acute and chronic courses
An acute hearing impairment is usually recognized very quickly. On the other hand, a gradual hearing loss usually goes unnoticed for a long time, not least because those affected get used to their deteriorating hearing.
As a consequence of chronic hearing loss, the quality of life can be impaired by various problems, for example:
- Contact difficulties, social uprooting, isolation and loneliness;
- premature exhaustion from increased concentration while listening;
- increased nervousness and irritability;
- Loss of self-confidence and impairment of social competence;
- Jumpiness due to impairment of the "alarm function" of hearing;
- Sleep disorders and concentration disorders, fears, insecurity, depression, dizziness symptoms;
- orthopedic problems especially in the cervical area, headache.
For more information, see Hearing Impairment: Diagnosis & Therapy.