It can be partial or total, sudden or gradual, temporary or permanent. It can affect one or both ears.
Hearing loss is a decrease in the ability to perceive sounds, it is known as anacusis or cofosis.
In general, the risk of hearing loss increases with age.
Hearing occurs when sound waves reach internal structures in your ear, where vibrations from the sound wave are converted into nerve signals that your brain recognizes as sound.
The ear is made up of: the outer ear, the middle ear (made up of the eardrum and the three small bones) and the inner ear (snail).
Sound enters the ear and hits the eardrum. This causes the eardrum to vibrate. The vibrations of the eardrum are amplified through the middle ear by the three small bones.
Inside the ear, the vibrations are transformed into nerve impulses. These nerve impulses travel to the brain, where they are interpreted as sounds.
The outer ear and the middle ear conduct sound. Any injury to this part of the hearing pathway is called conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss is an injury to the inner ear, the eighth cranial nerve, and the brain . These structures produce, transmit, and interpret nerve impulses.
Causes of anacusis
Anacusis can affect babies from the moment of birth and can be due to:
- Malformations in the internal auditory canal.
- Difficulties during pregnancy and at the time of delivery (premature babies, hereditary predispositions, hypoxia, jaundice and rubella).
Middle ear diseases
A bacterial middle ear infection can:
- Hurt the eardrum.
- Disturbing the bones of the middle ear.
- Cause fluid build-up.
Loud sounds can damage the delicate cells inside the ear. This is a form of sensorineural hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur due to a single short burst of extremely loud sound.
Most often it is the result of long-term exposure to loud sounds of slightly lower intensity.
The most important noises for their continuous exposure are:
- Occupational noise – Jobs where noise is a common part of the work environment, such as agriculture, construction, or factory work, can cause damage to the inside of the ear.
- Recreational noise : Exposure to explosive noise, such as firearms and jet engines, snowmobiles, motorcycling, and music at high volume levels, can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss.
An abnormal overgrowth of one or more bones in the middle ear prevents the small bones from moving normally.
This is a type of conductive hearing loss. Otosclerosis often runs in families.
This non-cancerous tumor grows in part of the eighth cranial nerve. This nerve carries signals to the brain.
Acoustic neuroma often causes dizziness and balance problems in addition to gradual hearing loss.
This typically causes dizziness, hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and a feeling of fullness or congestion in one or both ears.
People with Ménière’s disease have a build-up of excess fluid in the inner ear.
Many types of accidents can cause hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur when the eardrum is injured by the force of an explosion.
Or it may be the result of an object breaking the eardrum during an attempt to clean the ear canal.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
This is a medical emergency. A person loses hearing for a period of three days or less.
In most cases, only one ear is affected. The underlying problem may be a viral infection.
Many prescription and non-prescription medications can damage hearing and cause hearing loss. These include high doses of:
- Aspirin and other pain relievers.
- Loop diuretics.
- Anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs.
- Antimalarial drugs.
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is not a single disease. Rather, it is a category of the cumulative effects of aging on the ears.
Hearing loss usually begins after age 60. Both ears are affected.
It is often more difficult to hear high pitches (women’s voices, violins) than low pitches (men’s voices, bass).
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually over a period of years. The person may not realize that they have difficulty hearing.
There are more different causes of hearing loss in adults.
The most common reversible causes are severe wax build-up in the ear canal and acute infections of the outer or middle ear and meningitis.
If you have sudden severe hearing loss, you can immediately notice that the ability to hear has drastically decreased or completely disappeared in the affected ear.
If the hearing loss is gradual, the symptoms may be more subtle.
These are some of the symptoms that occur:
- Trouble understanding speech
- Problems after conversions, especially with more than one person.
- Increase the volume of television and radio to high levels.
- Constantly asking others to repeat.
- Noticing muffled sounds or ringing in the ears.
- Feeling excessively exhausted at the end of the day.
Some diseases and conditions that cause hearing loss can produce additional symptoms, including:
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- Discharge or bleeding from the ear.
- Deep earache or pain in the ear canal.
- Pressure or “stuffy” feeling inside the ears.
- Dizziness or problems with balance
Diagnosis of anacusis
Tests to diagnose hearing loss may include:
- Clinic history.
- Physical exam.
- General screening tests.
- Tuning fork tests.
- Audiometer tests.
When you are hard of hearing, help is available.
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss.
The options include:
- Eliminating wax blockage.
- Surgical procedures.
- Cochlear implants.
Treatment can improve the patient’s quality of life, improving relationships with people around them, promoting self-confidence and avoiding depression .
Prevention of anacusis
Hearing loss prevention is steps you can take to help prevent noise-induced hearing loss and prevent age-related hearing loss from worsening.
Protect your ears in the workplace, consider regular hearing tests if you work in a noisy environment.
Regular hearing tests can provide early detection of hearing loss.
Avoid activities such as snowmobiling, hunting, rock concerts, and music at high volumes for long periods of time.
Wearing hearing protectors or resting periodically from loud noise exposure.