What is Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss, or hearing impairment, is a common health problem attributed mainly to extreme noise, aging, disease, and heredity. Driven by a decreased sensitivity to sounds that could previously be heard, the condition comes in different types, degrees and configurations. 

 

There are three types of hearing loss:

  1. Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer ear and the middle ear, which prevent sound from being conducted and reaching the cochlea in the inner ear. 
  2. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear’s hair cells or nerve fibers that connect the ear to the brain are damaged or missing, resulting in a generally more permanent condition.
  3. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, meaning there is damage to both the inner and the outer or middle ear. This condition can vary in its severity from mild to profound.

 

According to a survey conducted on hearing loss in the Middle East by MED-EL - a leading provider of hearing implant systems - at least one in 25 people are affected by some degree of hearing impairment. Additionally, 87% of the region’s leading specialists cited hearing loss as one of the top five severe health issues affecting people in the region. Lack of awareness has been a key contributor to low rates of early diagnosis and intervention.

So what are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss or impairment? Hearing loss can be a sudden decrease in one’s ability to hear; however, quite often, it occurs gradually, preventing people from taking notice. Common signs to look out for include: 

  • Muffled hearing
  • Trouble understanding people speaking
  • Constantly asking others to repeat themselves
  • Listening to the TV or radio at a higher volume than others
  • Avoiding social activities and interactions

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or know of someone who is, it is important to take action and receive a professional diagnosis soon to avoid further impairment.