Hearing damage can occur from a variety of unfortunate incidents and depending on the serverighty, can leave a serious impact on your life. With that being said, even with hearing damage a majority of Americans cope fine with being in the workforce or in an educational position. Just because you have some form of hearing impairment, doesn’t necessarily mean that what you already enjoy has to stop. It just means you may have to adapt your current lifestyle to one that deals specifically with the overall health of your hearing. To understand how to prevent it you need to first understand what hearing damage actually is, as well as what causes. Once these concepts are set in place, you can hopefully reduce the chances of any future hearing loss and damage.
The Down & Dirty of Hearing Damage
So as to not get too neurological, hearing damage happens due to something at birth or from an outside source. What this means is, if you weren’t born with a certain bone in your ear or naturally have small ear canals than you’ll have hearing loss. Sometimes depending on the situation, you may be able to get certain surgeries that can either widen the ear canal to allow more sound in, or placing in a bone that may not have naturally formed. If it’s from an outside source, the decibels (sound level measured in pressure) can cause significant damage to your cochlea. Your cochlea is housed in your inner ear and contains tiny hairs that can pick up sounds. Once damage has occured to these hairs, they cannot grow back. If and when these hairs become damaged, they cannot pick up sound as they once did and in turn make you perceive sound as muffled or the infamous ringing known as tinnitus. This high pitched sound can come in the form of a ring, click or beep as well as can happen consistently or randomized. Just like hearing loss from an outside source, there’s no real way to get rid of tinnitus 100 percent, but it is treatable. Depending on how damaged the cochlea is as well, will inevitably determine if you need an actual cochlear implant. This is when during surgery, an artificial cochlea is used in place of your natural one. Your ears are one of the few places on your body that’s continually exposed to the elements. Whether we’re talking about the cold, water, or decibel level don’t forget about the two little guys that give you enjoyment in this life.
Forms of Hearing Damage
As mentioned previously, if there was an issue during birth where there is malformation of your ear canal or a missing bone in your ear this would be known as conductive hearing loss. This type of damage was outside of your control and therefore didn’t allow you to prevent it. They are also sometimes brought on by tumors, or ear infections in either the middle or inner ear. There can even be a malformation of the outer or middle ear as well, and can prevent sound from entering the canal. Another one many don’t think about is the actual collapse of your ear drum. If your ear canal’s already don’t work, than your inner ear can unintentionally produce back pressure therefore leading to the collapse of your ear drum on your middle ear bones. Whether from blunt trauma or something else, a punctured eardrum can obviously have an effect on your hearing as well. Thankfully, the surgery involved in fixing it has an extremely high success rate.
If the damage occurred from an outside source, it is commonly called sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). As the term implies, a loud sound or event caused the damage to occur. A common theme with SNHL/NIHL is an individual being in the proximity of a loud noise or event. Whether it being gunfire, explosion, or being around heavy machinery daily, these can all seriously impact your hearing from years to come. As mentioned previously, this form of hearing damage affects your inner ear with the small hairs that translate sound for you. Once they are damaged from these dangerous decibels, they cannot regrow and you are therefore unable to interpret sound properly anymore. Another simple form of hearing loss is when both of these are unfortunately combined. Usually what happens is the SNHL/NIHL occurs at the same time as when you notice you have conductive hearing loss.
Whether you realize you have conductive, SNHL/NIHL, or mixed hearing loss the life you are currently living is not over. There are workarounds for everything and the quicker you realize and understand that, the happier your life will be. If you’re not sure if you have hearing damage or not, book an appointment with a certified expert and be sure. One of the worst things that you can do is ignore it all together and end up making it worse by not receiving the proper treatment.