5 Common Causes of Hearing Loss

A closeup of a female doctor inspecting a patient's ear at a clinic

Hearing loss is an umbrella term that describes a person’s inability to hear certain sounds clearly, and there are many causes of temporary and permanent hearing impairment

Your hearing loss can be hereditary or caused by old age, trauma, disease, constant exposure to loud noises such as industrial deafness, or wearing earbuds with the volume too loud. It can also be sudden, usually caused by infection or very loud noises such as an explosion or gunshot. 

Here are five of the most common causes of hearing loss

Ageing 

Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is one of the most common causes and it happens gradually as you get older. The first signs are often an inability to hear higher frequencies. Many people don’t realise their hearing is affected until they start to have trouble hearing clearly with background noise. 

All hearing loss is life-changing, but older people are often ashamed that they can’t keep up with conversations and withdraw, stay home more and become socially isolated at a time in their life when they really need to connect with other people. 

Infection and Disease 

There are a few diseases that can cause diminished hearing such as Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis, and meningitis, and even some drug treatments can adversely affect your ability to hear clearly. Infections of the middle ear and viral infections such as measles and mumps can also affect hearing.  

Sudden Loud Noises 

Explosions and very loud noises next to your ear can cause temporary or permanent deafness or reduced hearing ability. The noise can rupture the ear drum or damage the tiny bones in the ear and can also cause noise-induced tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ear. 

Noisy Environments 

Industrial deafness or noise-induced hearing loss happens when you’re exposed to loud noise from factories or heavy machinery over a long period of time. The hearing loss is gradual and much of the damage has already been done by the time you notice it. Gradual hearing loss can also happen if you listen to music too loud through head phones or earbuds, or attend a lot of live rock concerts. 

Ear Wax 

build-up of ear wax can also cause temporary hearing loss. Some people produce more ear wax than others and it can cause problems when there’s too much or it becomes impacted. Fortunately, it’s easily treated with ear drops and a trip to your doctor or hospital if needed.  

Brisbane’s Most Thorough Free Hearing Test 

At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors, university students and working Australians. We understand that seeking help for your hearing problems can be embarrassing and stressful but we’re here to help you with this sensitive issue, or offer our expert advice on the causes of hearing loss. 

If you’re having trouble hearing for any reason it’s important to have a hearing test and get the appropriate treatment. 

Call us on (07) 3152 4056 or contact us online to discuss your hearing concerns and book a free no-obligation hearing test and consultation.

Coping with Cookie Bite Hearing Loss

Deficiency hearing problem. Empty space on the left

There are many different types of hearing loss, and people from all walks of life can experience sudden or gradual hearing loss caused by a variety of factors. 

One rare form of hearing loss is called cookie bite, named for the curved shape of the audiogram result which resembles a cookie with a bite taken out of it. It can also be called soup plate or U-shaped hearing loss. 

What is Cookie Bite Hearing Loss? 

Cookie bite hearing loss affects the mid-range hearing frequencies, and people who suffer from it can often hear high and low frequency sounds well. The condition is permanent and no cure is available, but the right hearing aid can help. 

Unfortunately, the mid-range frequency sounds are what we’re most comfortable listening to and include normal conversation and the sound from TV and radio. That means that people with cookie bite hearing loss will have trouble following conversations and hearing ‘normal’ everyday sounds, which makes life very difficult. 

The Causes of Cookie Bite Hearing Loss 

Heredity plays a big part in cookie bite hearing loss and most people are born with it. However, it may not be diagnosed until the person is at least in their 30s because they haven’t noticed any symptoms until then. 

It can be picked up in children by routine hearing tests at school, and when it’s discovered, it’s usually suggested that the parents also have a hearing test, which can reveal one or both parents have it. 

In very rare cases, it can be caused by damage or disease, but it’s mostly genetic. 

Cookie Bite Hearing Loss Treatment 

Once you’ve been diagnosed with cookie bite hearing loss, a hearing aid can help you to hear more clearly by amplifying the mid-range frequencies. The hearing aid needs to only increase the mid-range sounds because the wearer can already hear lower and higher sounds, so increasing their volume could become unbearable. 

Hearing aid technology has improved much over the last decade, and specialist hearing aids for conditions like cookie bite hearing loss now enable the wearer to adjust their device for more comfortable listening. 

It’s important to seek treatment as soon as you’re aware of the condition because it can worsen with time and age and needs to be regularly monitored. 

Your Independent Hearing Clinic 

At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors and working Australians. We understand that seeking help for diminishing hearing can be embarrassing and stressful, but we’re here to help you with this sensitive issue. 

A hearing test performed by an independent hearing clinic such as Health and Hearing can diagnose and quickly get you started with the right cookie bite hearing loss treatment. 

Call us on (07) 3366 9355 or contact us online to discuss your hearing concerns and book a free no-obligation hearing test and consultation. 

The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Elderly woman looks sadly outside the window

Along with our sight, hearing is one of the most important senses to help us make our way through the world, but have you ever stopped to consider the impact of hearing loss on quality of life? 

It’s time to stop putting off that hearing test because you’re afraid of the results and you don’t want to wear a hearing aid. New technology in hearing aids means that they’re no longer the bulky, unattractive devices your grandparents wore. Modern hearing aids are small and inconspicuous, and you’ll be amazed at how much they can help you hear clearly. 

If you’re still not convinced, here are some of the effects of untreated hearing loss you may not have thought much about. 

General Safety 

We rely on our hearing to warn of us of impending danger, but your reduced ability to hear means you won’t be able to clearly hear shouts of warning at work or while you’re out and about, or hear a cry for help. 

Smoke alarms rely on sound to warn you of fire and give you time to get out of the building and call for help. 

Crossing the street becomes even more dangerous if you can’t hear approaching traffic, and driving becomes perilous for you and other road users. 

Not being able to hear warning sounds puts you at a significant risk wherever you are, awake or asleep. 

Socialising and Relationships 

As social beings, the impact of hearing loss on communication can be devastating. You’ll soon become frustrated and embarrassed by your inability to hear and follow the conversation of your friends and family, and they might feel annoyed at you. This, in turn, makes you want to avoid social situations which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Left untreated, hearing loss reduces your ability to connect with people at a time when it’s vitally important for your mental health and wellbeing

Dementia 

Researchers have found a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia that suggests those with even mild symptoms of hearing loss may be twice as likely to develop dementia later in life. It’s the social impact of hearing loss that increases the risk because of the reduction in quality of life due to isolation, loneliness and even depression. 

The extra work your brain has to do in order to hear and understand conversation may also lead to changes that encourage dementia. It’s important to note that hearing loss is just a risk factor and doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop dementia. 

Balance 

Hearing loss can also cause dizziness and affect your balance due to the inner ear sending unequal nerve impulses to the brain. The brain perceives the information as distorted and sends messages to your eyes that create a spinning sensation which makes you dizzy and off-balance. 

Book a Free Hearing Test and Consultation 

At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors and working Australians. We understand that seeking help for diminishing hearing can be embarrassing and stressful, but we’re here to help you with this sensitive issue. 

Call us on (07) 3366 9355 or contact us online to discuss your hearing concerns and book a free no-obligation hearing test and consultation. 

Industrial Hearing Loss – Causes and Symptoms

Worker Wearing Noise Reduction Ear Muffs. Loud Noises Job.

Industrial hearing loss, often called industrial deafness, occupational deafness or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), used to be a common condition affecting people who work in very noisy environments such as factories and the construction industry. 

This irreversible, but completely preventable condition still happens far too often despite increased awareness of the terrible consequences, resulting in temporary or permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ears. 

What is Industrial Deafness? 

Industrial hearing loss caused by loud noises in the workplace can be from repeated exposure over a long time, such as factory noise and machinery in a confined space, or sudden loud noises such as explosions. 

Long term exposure to excessive noise gradually causes hearing loss, so it isn’t noticeable until the damage is done; it’s also the easiest form of deafness to prevent. The constant loud noise damages the tiny cells in the inner ear which can’t be repaired, and the damage only worsens as the exposure continues. 

The Symptoms of Industrial Deafness 

If you’re constantly exposed to loud noises at work with no protection for your ears, it’ll take some time for you notice a significant reduction in your ability to hear properly. 

Often you may be the last to realise there’s a problem, but others will notice that you keep asking them to repeat themselves, or you’ll complain that people are mumbling or not speaking loud enough.  You might also notice that you need to turn up the TV or radio to hear it clearly, or you have trouble following a conversation when there’s a lot of background noise.  

How to Prevent Industrial Hearing Loss 

Preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is quite simple once you’re aware of the damage that occurs with constant exposure to loud noises. Workplaces can be tested for acceptable noise levels and steps taken to reduce the noise if it’s too high. Your employer is required by law to reduce your exposure to loud noise. You can also wear protective equipment such as ear plugs and ear muffs and ask to be moved to somewhere quieter if possible. 

Why You Should Get A Hearing Test 

If you work in a noisy environment and you suspect your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, it’s important to reduce your exposure to loud noises and have a professional hearing test as soon as possible to assess the damage. If left untreated, your hearing loss can have an effect on your work performance and even pose a safety risk to yourself and your work mates. 

Once your hearing is damaged, it can’t be restored, but there are ways to help you hear clearly again. 

At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors and working Australians, and we’re here to help you with any problems you have with your hearing. 

Call us on (07) 3366 9355 or contact us online to discuss your hearing concerns and book a free no-obligation hearing test and consultation. 

Do you Struggle to Hear with Background Noise Present?

Senior couple in nursing home watching tv

As you get older, your hearing can often diminish, and one of the first signs of hearing loss is the inability to hear clearly in crowded places or where there’s a lot of background noise. This can result in people becoming frustrated and too embarrassed to go out in public and socialise with friends, so they decline invitations and start to feel lonely and isolated at home. 

However, all that can be prevented by visiting your local hearing clinic and getting the help you need. You’ll also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re doing everything you can to improve and retain your hearing. 

What Causes It? 

Often the person can hear well in quiet situations but cannot pick up the softer parts of speech with noise in the background, which means the brain can’t properly translate the sounds into something meaningful. This is because the tiny hair cells in the inner ear become damaged over time and die, which reduces your ability to pick up certain sounds, and filtering out background noise is a complex process that requires both ears to be working precisely. 

Even if we don’t always hear clearly what others are saying, our brains can usually fill in the gaps for us, which is why it sometimes takes a few seconds to understand what’s been said. 

Background noise tends to be at a lower frequency and can block out many of the important speech sounds you need to make sense of what you’re hearing. 

What is SNR Loss? 

The signal to noise ratio (SNR) is the gap between the other’s person’s speech (the signal) and the noise (the background noise), and people with perfect hearing are able to deal with a lower SNR. 

This means if your hearing is impaired, you need a higher SNR to hear clearly. The bigger the gap, the easier you can understand what’s being said – the signal is much louder than the noise. 

How Hearing Aids Can Help 

If you struggle to hear with background noise, it’s likely you have some signal to noise ratio hearing loss, and hearing aids can help. Hearing aids can determine the difference between speech and noise and separate the two so that the speech signal is amplified and the noise is suppressed, allowing you to hear much better. 

Book a Free Consultation 

It’s important to see a professional about any concerns you have with your hearing, especially if you’re struggling to hear with background noise, or you notice any sudden changes to your ability to hear. At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors and working Australians, and we’re here to help you with any questions you have with your hearing. 

Call us on (07) 3152 4056 or contact us online to discuss your hearing concerns and book a free no-obligation hearing test and consultation. 

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