For normal hearing, sound must be able to reach the inner ear. The inner ear must be functioning normally and deliver the sound through the auditory nerve to the brain. In some cases, hearing loss and deafness are present at birth. Congenital hearing loss can be caused by normal heredity, chromosomal abnormalities, or infections acquired during the pregnancy or during birth. How do you lose your hearing if you are born with normal hearing?
Hearing loss and deafness can occur during childhood. Temporary hearing loss is fairly common with ear infections. A severe ear infection or recurrent infections can cause permanent damage to hearing. Some other childhood illnesses are potential causes of hearing loss. The mumps is an example of a childhood illness that can lead to hearing loss.
Hearing loss from a blockage of the ear canal or abnormality that keeps sound from reaching the inner ear is called conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is often treatable. Causes of conductive hearing loss can include a blockage of the ear canal with hardened earwax or a growth blocking the ear canal. Many times, conductive hearing loss can be treated by removing the blockage.
Permanent hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear. Head trauma, an interruption of blood flow to the inner ear, and auditory trauma can produce permanent hearing loss. Auditory trauma can occur if the person is exposed to an explosion that causes a sudden change in the pressure of the ear or loud noises that damage the cochlea over time.
Listening to loud music or being exposed to noise can gradually damage the cochlea. Some people experience hearing loss from working in noisy environments like a loud manufacturing setting. Musicians are susceptible to hearing loss from loud music. Hearing loss can be a complication of diabetes if the functioning of the blood vessels or nerves of the inner ear have been damaged by the disease.
Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected surgically. Hearing aids are used to treat sensorineural hearing loss. If the hearing loss is profound deafness, the person may have some benefit from cochlear implants depending on the type of the hearing loss. If the auditory nerve is damaged, there may not be any treatment that will allow the person to hear. The auditory nerve has to be functioning in order to deliver sound to the brain for sensory processing.
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