Hearing loss occurs when one or more parts of the ear and/or the parts of the brain that make up the hearing pathway do not function normally. The causes of hearing loss come in many forms and can have multiple causes with each individual having a unique type of hearing loss.
The impact on the ability to hear sounds, known as audiometric hearing loss can, can range from being mild to profound. Hearing loss can be a condition that exists at birth or develops later in life, may occur suddenly or gradually over many years.
The extent of an individual’s hearing loss can also differ depending on the pitch (frequency) of the sounds being heard. Individuals can also have different hearing losses in each ear.
It’s important to know if you have a hearing loss, as it can reduce your ability to learn, listen, and talk with family, friends and workmates. If you think you have a hearing loss, HEARnet Online recommends seeing a hearing health professional, such as an audiologist or audiometrist, who will test your hearing abilities.
Types Of Hearing Loss
There are four types of hearing loss:
HEARnet Online’s Interactive Ear provides a quick and easy visual guide to explain the different types of hearing loss and the range of technologies available to help manage it.
The Many Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many causes of hearing loss can occur, some of the more common reasons why are listed below:
- The natural aging process (permanent sensorineural hearing loss);
- A genetic predisposition that can start at birth or later on in life;
- Middle-ear infections;
- Exposure to damaging noise;
- Head injuries & operation traumas;
- Exposure to certain chemicals and medications that damage hearing cells in the cochlea (permanent sensorineural hearing loss);
- Use of certain medications that can damage the ears.
- Exposure to damaging noise (work noise, leisure noise) resulting in a ‘noise injury’ to the cochlea;
- A head injury, trauma or operation (temporary or permanent conductive, sensorineural or mixed hearing loss);
- Your brain having difficulty in understanding what your ears hear such as an Auditory Processing Disorder; and
- A combination of the above. For example, if you acquire a hearing loss due to exposure to harmful noise, this will be added to the hearing loss that develops as you get old.
Remember if you are unsure; have your hearing tested by an audiologist or an audiometrist and find out if you have a hearing loss.