Hearing loss is a common condition that affects 1 in 6 of the UK adult population and millions of people around the world. Hearing loss is not always permanent, but it can be difficult to determine if your hearing will improve or get worse without professional help.
What is the first sign of hearing loss?
The first sign of hearing loss is losing the ability to hear other people’s voices. This can be especially confusing if you’re in a situation where the background noise is loud and you can only hear certain parts of the conversation. If this happens frequently, it could mean that your ears are becoming less sensitive to sound over time.
Some common early signs of hearing loss can also include:
- Needing to turn up the volume on televisions and radios
- Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
Causes of temporary hearing loss
If your hearing loss happened suddenly and did not get worse over time, it’s more likely temporary. There are many causes of temporary hearing loss and some problems may get worse over time if they aren’t treated properly.
Here are several of the most common causes of temporary hearing loss:
- Ear infections
- Earwax build-up
- Foreign object stuck in the ear canal
- Exposure to loud noise
- Fluid trapped in the middle ear
- Sudden change in altitude
While these symptoms can indicate a temporary hearing problem, there’s no guarantee that they won’t become permanent with time. If you are experiencing gradual hearing loss, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can perform tests in order to determine the cause of your hearing loss, and how best to treat it. Alternatively you may want to consider seeing a specialist.
Permanent hearing loss – causes and diagnosis
Permanent hearing loss can occur very quickly or over time, but it’s typically caused by age-related changes or exposure to loud noises. It’s also common with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, Meniere’s disease and Lyme disease. In some cases, hearing loss can also be caused by injury to the ear or head, such as from a car accident or blast injury.
The best way to determine if hearing loss is permanent or temporary is to have a professional evaluation by an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. They will conduct a series of tests to assess your hearing, including a pure-tone audiometry test, which measures your ability to hear different frequencies of sound, and a speech audiometry test, which measures your ability to hear and understand speech.
The doctor can also look for physical signs of damage to the ear, such as fluid in the ear or a buildup of earwax. If hearing loss is found to be permanent, it may be treated with hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other assistive devices.
When to see a doctor?
It’s important to note that hearing loss can occur gradually, so it’s important to have regular hearing tests to detect any changes in your hearing. If you suspect you may have permanent hearing loss it’s important to see a doctor right away. They will be able to diagnose and recommend treatment options.
Mr Wale Olarinde is an expert in all ear, nose and throat conditions and offers appointments to suit your schedule. You can book a consultation online via our website or contact our friendly clinic today on 0114 321 6522.