Although recent medical breakthroughs and technological improvements have benefited the treatment of hearing loss, hearing impairment cases continue to increase worldwide. Without treatment, the severity of hearing loss can accelerate over time and lead to other debilitating medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and depression. Identifying the type of hearing loss helps medical professionals determine the appropriate treatment options. Here are the five levels of hearing loss, available treatments and preventative measures.
The 5 Levels of Hearing Loss and Treatments
The cause, type and treatment of hearing loss are unique to each patient. Although researchers are unsure why hearing loss increases as you age, one in three seniors will experience hearing loss after age 65. Since most hearing damage is irreversible, treating a condition effectively and protecting your remaining hearing is vital to your future well-being.
If you have difficulty hearing whispers and sounds quieter than 15dB, you have slight hearing loss. For adults, treatments can include wax removal or antibiotics for infection after a thorough check-up and audio test. For young patients, doctors suggest using a hearing aid to support language and speech development.
Hearing loss that falls in the 26 to 40dB range is mild. Patients with mild cases have trouble hearing conversations in a crowded room with excessive background noise. After a series of audio tests, an ENT professional often prescribes a hearing aid for mild loss.
When you cannot hear sound below the 40-69dB range, the severity is moderate. Conversations typically fall in the 60dB range, and people with moderate hearing loss struggle to hear words clearly during in-person and telephone conversions. Conventional hearing aids benefit patients with moderate loss.
With severe hearing loss, you cannot distinguish sounds lower than 70-94dB. Without a hearing aid, patients with severe loss cannot hear conversations or moderately loud audio recordings.
Those with profound hearing loss cannot make out sounds lower than 95dB, and only deafening sounds can be heard without a hearing device. Hearing aids can help profound loss, but cochlear implants may be the only credible treatment for patients who have little hearing left.
Hearing Loss Causes
Detecting the causes of hearing loss help doctors develop the proper testing and treatment procedures for their patients. Hearing impairment can be caused by several factors, including:
- Prolonged exposure to loud noise
- Middle and inner ear diseases
- Trauma from injuries
- Excessive wax buildup
- Eardrum damage
Hearing Loss Prevention
Whether you have excellent hearing or experience hearing loss, you can guard against further damage by protecting your ears when you’re in a noisy environment. Live concerts, sporting events, festivals and manufacturing plants produce noise well above a comfortable decibel range, but you can use noise-dampening earplugs or earphones to minimize damage from loud sounds.
Ear infections caused by swimming in contaminated water can cause hearing loss and severe pain, but you can protect yourself from infections by wearing swimming earplugs or a swimming cap. Poorly managed public pools and polluted lakes or ponds should be avoided, but you can apply an alcohol solution (swimmer’s ear drops) for added protection after swimming in pools or lakes.
If you experience any loss of hearing, even a slight loss, immediately talk to a medical professional. Your hearing plays a primary role in your mental health. Treating the issue can prevent further deterioration.
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