Hearing is one of those things that we don’t think about much when we are young. Only when we get older and start to notice that we struggle to hear clearly does it gain importance. By then it could be too late. We might find that we need to turn up the volume on our TV or radio or we can’t hear people say things to us sometimes. Hearing loss is common and happens to a lot of people.
Our hearing works by a combination of 3 sections in our ears. These three sections in our ear convert sound vibrations into messages that are sent to the brain. The vibrations first pass through the outer ear, they are then turned into pressure waves by the middle ear and finally translated by the inner ear. The inner ear translates it into signals our brains understand. When something interrupts this process, it causes problems with hearing.
Types of hearing loss
Some people have congenital hearing loss when they are born. This is usually tested before a new born baby leaves the hospital. Others hearing loss is progressive and due to a number of things. Progressive hearing loss can be caused by noise, age or it can be caused by an injury or illness. Some peoples hearing loss is preventable which is why we should be paying attention to our hearing from an early age.
The two types of hearing loss are conductive, which is due to something blocking the ear such as wax, liquid from a cold, infection or allergy. This is usually temporary and can be relieved by medication. The second type is sensorineural hearing loss caused by too much noise, injury, ageing and illnesses. This type of damage is most likely permanent.
Protecting your hearing
To protect your hearing, you need to be conscious of the situations around you at all times. Hearing loss happens over a period of time. We can help protect our hearing by avoiding loud noises, by wearing ear plugs when you are around loud noises such as loud machinery, power tools, fireworks and even music concerts. Be mindful of the volume of headphones when wearing them, keep it down and always take breaks when wearing them for long periods of time.
When working in a noisy environment be sure to always wear your protective ear plugs, as when we are exposed to loud noise for this amount of time it can cause damage. If ear plugs are not supplied you can ask for them or alternatively you can buy them at the chemist.
There are different tests available to check your hearing. There are also home hearing tests that you can get but if you feel you have hearing loss you should see your health care professional to organise to get your ears professionally tested.