The ear is the organ responsible for hearing. However, when the auditory system, including the ears, is experiencing issues, hearing loss can be mild or profound. The deafness can be caused by the aging process, diseases, genetic defects, injury, or trauma.
There are two types of hearing loss, and they are sensorineural or conductive. When a person has a combination of both, then it’s known to be a “mixed” case. In some instances, the loss started at birth which is termed as a congenital condition. The ones that occur after conception are acquired since noise can be a factor in why people are losing their hearing abilities.
About the Anatomy of the Ear
The auditory system or the ear is made up of three different parts. These are the following:
Outer Part – This part is visible to everyone, which you see in the mirror. The overall shape is designed for the collection of sound waves that are in the environment. An ear’s overall shape resembles that of a tube so that the waves can go inwards and reach the eardrum.
Middle Part – This is separated from the outer part through the eardrums. This contains three bones called the stirrup (stapes), anvil bone (incus), and hammer bone (malleus). These are the bones that amplify the eardrum’s movements per the sound waves. There’s the Eustachian tube that connects the back of the throat to the middle ear so that the air pressure can be equalized. You can know more about the Eustachian tubes through this url: https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/eustachian-tube#1.
Inner Part – The inner ear picks out the sound waves from the eardrum to the spiral organ that’s known as the cochlea. The hair cells contained in the organ pass the messages and vibrations into the brain. They are then interpreted through the cochlear nerves.
Conductive Loss of Hearing
This is the type where the loss of sound waves is evident. There’s a problem transmitting the sounds between the inner and the outer ear. As an example, a conductive loss can be caused by the following:
- Impacted or too much buildup inside the canals
- The three small bones have failed to pass the sounds along the middle and inside of the inner ear.
- There’s a failure for the vibration of the eardrums to respond to the waves. There’s the buildup of fluids that could dampen the sounds of the eardrum. In many ways, various treatments can improve this, and a usual way of hearing can return in no time.
The sensorineural hearing loss can occur because the cochlea is damaged. For example, this is usually caused by trauma or diseases that can disrupt the cochlear nerve from getting sound waves. The rest, which is made up of the eardrum and the tiny bones, are still working, but the brain does not usually receive the electrical impulses. These cases may not usually respond to treatment.
Temporary Causes to Know About
Wax – The ear canal secretes a waxy substance called the cerumen to lubricate and protect the tissues. In many instances, the wax buildup can happen, and they can block the ear canals as a result. This can become a problem in hearing if not appropriately addressed.
Foreign Objects – Getting foreign objects stuck like the tip of a cotton bud can lead to similar results to an earwax. This may cause temporary deafness until the thing is removed.
Excessive Mucus – This can result from bouts of flu, the common cold, allergies, or hay fever. The excess mucus can block the Eustachian tube of the ears.
Infections – This may include otitis media, an infection involving the middle ear, and otitis externa with the outer part. The pus and fluid don’t allow the conduction of sound.
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
Some of the diseases that can cause deafness include chickenpox, meningitis, cytomegalovirus, and mumps. Another notable one is the Usher syndrome, where the magnitude can depend on the symptoms’ severity and onset.
The auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder appears after a child is in middle school or experienced later as an adult. This may run in many families but can also have chances of appearing to those who don’t have a medical history of this disease. In this kind of disorder, the signals are not transmitted properly, and the loss can be severe.
The Waardenburg syndrome describes the group of 6 genetic conditions in many patients who have deafness. Some people who have higher chances of getting this syndrome are those with different-colored eyes, blue eyes, white forelocks, or gray hairs early in adulthood.
Know that the symptoms can be unpredictable. In many children, the Carpenter syndrome may have abnormally shaped ears and underdeveloped jaws, but some may have hearing loss as a result. You can click here for more information about how you can get intervention. The earlier the treatment, the better the results.
Prenatal Exposure to a Specific Disease
Babies who are born deaf may have been exposed to many diseases, including a mother experiencing mumps, influenza, German measles or rubella, and others. Other environmental factors are thought to cause congenital deafness, like exposures to medicines such as quinine and methyl mercury.
Loud noises like rock concerts, explosions, firecrackers, and gunshots can affect one’s hearing. They are particularly prevalent for people who are often exposed to very loud environments every day at their workplaces. If you’re conversing with someone and need them to shout for you to hear what they are saying, then it might be a red flag that you need to do a screening test or ensure that everything is still fine.
Wearing earmuffs or plugs can also help protect your ears from damage. Avoid places where there is construction going on and avoid damaging the cochlea as much as possible.
Sometimes, genetic mutations can happen. From the moment of conception, the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm may join, but genetic disorders may not result in a healthy baby. Some may experience Treacher Collins syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, or Trisomy 13, known as the Patau syndrome, that can cause deafness upon birth.