Over 48 million people in America have some sort of disruptive hearing loss; that number includes two-thirds of people over 70. There are two kinds of loss: conductive and sensorineural, with one being more serious than the other. In this guide, readers will learn about the most common causes of and treatments for these losses.
Earwax may seem gross, but it serves an important function: it prevents dirt, dust, and germs from getting into the eardrum. If there’s too little wax, ears are itchy, dry, and more likely to become infected. If there’s too much, tinnitus, earaches, and loss can result. Wax moves to the tip of the ear canal on its own, where it can safely be removed.
Explosive noises near the ear, infections, air pressure changes, and aggressive cleaning can puncture the eardrum, which is the thin layer of tissue separating the middle and outer ear. Although these perforations typically heal on their own, it’s best to have the ear checked by an ENT doctor or otolaryngologist.
Though it’s more common in children, ear infections can occur in adults as well. If the eustachian tubes are blocked by inflammation and swelling, pain, fever, congestion, and temporary loss may result. Infections usually clear up in a few days, but if the pain is severe, call a doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics.
Listening to Music With Earphones or Attending Concerts
Because earbuds don’t block external sounds, listeners often turn up the volume for hours on end. If a person keeps going to concerts and sporting events, the delicate hairs in the inner ear degrade and cause cumulative losses. Choose earphones with volume controls, and remember, if people nearby can hear the music, it’s too loud. Consider limiting trips to rock concerts and loud sporting events such as auto races and football games.
Whether a person hears well or poorly, it affects other areas of life. All the above causes are preventable, and most damage is treatable. By taking steps to protect the ears now, patients can hear well long into their golden years.