Hearing loss: types, causes, and treatment

The hearing lossDefined as the partial, total, temporary or definitive inability to listen, it is a pathology that can occur at any time in life, even when it is related to age.

In this article you will find the main symptoms of hearing loss, as well as the types, causes and treatment for each one, due to the frequency with which it occurs and that the diagnosis warrants an exhaustive auscultation, because, depending on the origin there will be a specific protocol for care.

In addition to the types, there are levels of deafness, ranging from mild, moderate, severe, to profound, and can be in one or both ears.

A person with hearing loss may experience

  • Hearing sensitivity, that is, feeling loud sounds in either ear.
  • Involvement of both ears in noisy spaces.
  • True
    inability to distinguish some sounds which are similar.
  • Difficulty understanding some conversationsespecially when multiple people are speaking.
  • Sensation of having the pinna covered.
  • Feel that hear the voice in the distance
    even though the person speaking is nearby.
  • Feel that Loses balance.
  • Feel
    some pressure in the ears.
  • Sensation of clogged ears or fluid inside.
  • Hearing a permanent or sporadic buzzing (tinnitus).

General causes

There are some general reasons why you can suffer from hearing loss or deafness, which can range from the simplest to the most complex, hence the importance of making a precise diagnosis, verifying the severity and assigning an adequate and timely treatment.

Likewise, according to the type of deafness suffered, which we will see later, there are particular causes by which it originates.

Among these reasons are:

  • Earwax abundance in the outer ear.
  • Bone damage located behind the eardrum.
  • Presence of fluid in the ear after having overcome an infection or otitis.
  • Object or particle that has been introduced in the ear canal.
  • Broken eardrum due to excessively loud noise near the ear (screaming, gunshots, explosions), sudden pressure change, an ear injury from infection, slapping or hitting the face near the ear, inserting swabs or any other pointed object to clean it.

Types of hearing loss

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: It can appear from an injury to the inner ear and from neural loss, that is, loss or wear of the auditory nerve; It occurs when the nerve endings or hair cells, which are responsible for transmitting sound through the ear, are injured, do not function properly or are dead. This damage is generally irreversible.

The sensorineural deafness may appear due to:

  • Advanced age
  • Presence of an acoustic neuroma (Benign tumor
    that grows on the nerve that connects the ear and the brain).
  • Infections that occurred during childhood such as mumps, meningitis, measles, among others.
  • Frequent exposure to loud noises.
  • Use of certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss: It is the one that originates in the middle and external ear and can be caused by infections or otitis in the middle ear, the presence of a benign tumor, perforation of the eardrum, malformations in this area of ​​the ear and some trauma caused by blows or accidents.
  • Mixed hearing loss: It is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, and means that there is damage to both the middle or outer ear and the inner ear, and the depth of deafness can be moderate to profound. People with mixed hearing loss perceive sounds at low volumes and find it difficult to understand or follow a conversation.

Hearing loss in neonates

Hearing loss can be congenital, so some neonates can present this pathology; however, both the parents and the pediatrician himself usually discover it during the fourth or fifth month of life. It can be caused by:

  • Infections suffered by the mother During pregnancy
  • Medical treatments that have affected the immune system
  • Malformations in the structure of the ear

Other causes of ear injury and the appearance of hearing loss are:

  • The sudden or slow pressure differences between the outer and inner part of the middle ear, motivated to pressurize the aircraft cabin, diving, mountaineering, etc.
  • Skull injury from fracture that affect both the structure and the nerves of the ear.
  • Bruises from thunderous noises produced by fireworks, shots, explosions, use of headphones, rock concerts, among others.

How do we know if we have hearing loss?

The first thing to determine is what activity we have done to feel a change in hearing, such as attending a concert, having been close to an explosion, if we have suffered a fall, accident or trauma, ear infections, and keep in mind that some of them may have caused the hearing loss. However, nothing will be clear until the specialist has carried out the examination and diagnosed, through hearing tests, that the quality of auditory perception has decreased or disappeared.


Depending on the cause and severity of the hearing loss, it will serve as treatment:

  • Remove ear wax plug suctioning it with the appropriate instruments.
  • Surgery to correct abnormalities of the eardrum or from the ossicles, by inserting small tubes to drain the ears.
  • Use of hearing aids, in case the hearing loss is the result of an injury to the inner ear.
  • Cochlear implants, when the hearing loss is severe and hearing aids do not promote or improve hearing. This implant works directly on the auditory nerve, since it transforms all sounds into electrical impulses that activate the nerve fibers of the cochlea at high speed and continuously; the nerve transmits electrical signals to the brain, which is responsible for interpreting them as sounds.
  • Hearing aids are another treatment option, because they amplify the sounds. On the market there are several types of hearing aids with similar components, such as a small battery that powers the device, a microphone that captures the sounds of the environment, a small amplifier that is responsible for increasing the volume of sounds and the speaker that sends sound to the outer ear.

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