When it comes to our everyday lives, we rely on all our senses as a means of navigating our environment and identifying hazards in our terrain. We rely on our eyesight when we’re walking and driving by discerning objects and the landscape in front of us. If it’s dark, we usually rely on our sense of touch to navigate areas that we can’t see. If we’re unsure if a specific type of food has gone wrong, we use a sense of smell to sense any chemical composition changes.
Besides our eyesight, sense of smell, and touch, our hearing is known for being one of the most important reasons in the body. In the morning, we rely on audible cues from our alarm clock to wake ourselves up. The “ding” from microwaves and ovens helps signal that the breakfast is ready to be eaten. The mere act of talking and interacting with other individuals will involve two-way communication.
Not only is hearing important in interacting with others and being aware of our surroundings, but it’s also known for giving us situational awareness to our surroundings; what our eyesight and sense of smell can’t detect, our hearing can. But as we age, our sense of hearing can deteriorate, especially when exposed to loud noises that could cause permanent and long-term hearing loss.
Most individuals with permanent or partial hearing loss will have more challenges to tackle throughout their daily lives. In most situations, these challenges can be complicated and can often lead to dangerous situations.
But what are some factors that can lead to deafness? What are the associated risks and symptoms to it? Here’s what you can do to prevent hearing loss.
Deafness and Hearing Loss
But before anything else, we have to first look into the statistics and data on deafness and hearing loss. Do both have to share the same definition?
Medically speaking, deafness is defined as partial, near-total, and total hearing loss. According to international organisations like the World Health Organization, 466 million individuals worldwide or roughly around 5% of the world’s population have hearing loss that could interfere with their daily lives.
Most individuals with an ordinary sense of hearing will have an average threshold of around 25 dB, or higher for both ears. However, someone that has hearing loss will have a lower threshold to their hearing. In some situations, hearing loss can happen to one ear or both ears. This severity can also vary, ranging from being mild to a near-total loss of hearing.
Most individuals with “difficulties” with their hearing are usually classified with mild to severe hearing loss. The severity of the hearing loss can be assisted with transplants and hearing aid devices. But individuals that are deaf are those that have little to no chance of hearing. Many individuals that are deaf will have to resort to sign language as a means of communication.
Types of Hearing Loss and Deafness
Hearing loss is divided into four tiers, with the lowest tear being mild.
- Mild hearing loss – If you’re suffering from a mild form of hearing loss, you’ll still be able to listen to conversations within the same room. But you may find it challenging to listen to whispers and subtle sounds.
- Moderate hearing loss – When you’re having a conversation with someone in the same room, you will only hear very little of what they’re saying.
- Severe hearing loss – This is even harder to hear conversations, and the only type of noises you will are loud ones.
- Near-total and profound hearing loss – You’ll only be able to hear thunderous noises.
A complex variety of factors usually causes both hearing loss and deafness. Some of the most prominent medical conditions that are related to hearing loss are:
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss – This type of hearing loss is known for being permanent. This is quite common among individuals working close to loud types of machinery since this is caused by long-term damage in the ear’s inner parts. Most; experts would suggest wearing personal protective equipment, especially among construction and industrial workers. Fortunately, ear muffs for construction workers are specifically designed to muffle loud sounds that might damage the ears.
- Conductive Hearing Loss – Compared to the first condition, this type of hearing loss is caused by sound not reaching the ear’s inner bones. Certain doctors that specialise in this field would suggest medication and getting surgery.
- Mixed Hearing Loss – This type of hearing loss could be a mix of other hearing loss conditions, such as conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
There are a variety of environmental factors that could lead to hearing loss. Most of the time, the main cause of hearing loss is subjecting your hearing to loud noises in the long-term. If you’re working in a loud industrial workplace, on airways, or close to loud machinery, it’s important to protect your ears and senses with personal protective equipment. After all, prevention is better than having to spend several surgeries.