About Hearing Loss
Our sense of hearing is a remarkable system that converts sound waves in the air into meaningful words or beautiful music. What would life be like if you were unable to hear the voices of your loved ones? Would music exist were it not for the gift of hearing? Central to hearing is communication. As people, we are designed to be social. Our existence and society is rooted in our ability to convey our thoughts, feelings and desires to each other. The primary way in which we do this is through spoken language. But, what use would spoken language be if there was no mechanism to receive and make sense of the sounds we call speech? Helen Keller, a woman who became blind and deaf at an early age once wrote, "Deafness separates us from people". Her insight highlights the important relationship between hearing and communication. Losing the ability to hear, or at least to hear well, creates a huge gap between people because our ability to communicate becomes greatly limited.
No greater importance can be placed on hearing than when it comes to children. Good hearing at an early age forms the foundation of speech development and learning.
How common is hearing loss?
In children, 1 to 3 out of every 1000 babies born will have a hearing loss. Unlike adults, babies cannot express if they are unable to hear. Therefore, it is especially important for parents to be aware of the signs of hearing loss, as healthy hearing in the early years is essential for proper speech development and learning.
In adults, the likelihood of hearing loss increases with age. Statistically, 20% of people over 65 years and 40% of people over 75 years will have significant hearing loss. However, hearing loss is no longer just an age-related concern.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Accumulated exposure to damaging levels of noise throughout our lifetime can lead to an acceleration of the natural age-related hearing loss. In fact, with the emergence of MP3 players and current trends in headphone use among teens and young adults, noise-related hearing loss is occurring at a much earlier age than previously seen.
Hearing loss can also be caused by a host of other factors including fluid build up in the middle ear such as from an ear infection, a perforated ear drum, excess wax in the ear canal, disease that can affect the middle ear bones, hereditary factors and certain medications.
Signs of Hearing Loss In Adults:
- Sounds seem faint and speech sounds muffled or slurred.
- Family or friends may complain that the TV or radio volume is too high.
- Increased difficulty hearing and understanding conversation in background noise.
Signs of Hearing Loss In Children:
- Delayed speech development or regressing speech.
- Inability to accurately locate where sounds are coming from.
- Academic or behavioural issues.
Effects of Hearing Loss and Related Health Concerns:
Untreated hearing loss can lead to poor performance at work and school, mishearing information and pose safety risks if we cannot hear sounds that alert us to danger. Additionally, hearing loss can result in a sense of social isolation, poor self-image and in some cases depression. Studies show that people with mild hearing loss have twice the risk of developing dementia and those with severe hearing loss have five times the risk as compared to people with normal hearing.
At Sonaris Ear Centre, we recognize the importance of early detection of hearing loss and waste no time in providing you and your family members with proficient hearing care.