Predominantly, hearing loss is a natural part of growing old; just as most elderly people require reading glasses. In 9 out of 10 cases, hearing loss is age-related. Apart from this, constant exposure to loud noise, head trauma, or genetics - to name only a few - could also cause hearing loss.
A hearing loss develops gradually, almost imperceptibly. Unlike other sensory impairments – for example, degenerated sight - a reduced sense of hearing is not perceived instantaneously and thus may go unnoticed for many years.
Not only are signs and symptoms of hearing loss very subtle; they are also manifold and often differ from person to person. Reasons for concern may include the following:
We weigh our body weight in kilograms, pounds or stone; measure our height in meters, feet or inches; monitor our heart rate in beats per minute. How do we measure hearing?
Our hearing organs perceive sound as pitch and loudness, respectively as frequency and intensity. Low frequency sound waves produce low pitched, bass sounds while high frequencies produce high pitched, whistle sounds.
Decibels (dB) are the unit used to quantify loudness (our hearing’s perception of sound intensity). A pleasant conversation, for example, has the intensity of 60 dB, a lawn mower up to 100 dB. Our ears respond to intensities between -10 dB and 120 dB.
The severity of a hearing impairment depends on how loud a sound must be before an individual hears it. Degrees of hearing loss are categorized as follows:
Extended exposure to loud and excessive noise can damage the fine hair cells in the inner ear and result in a noise-induced hearing loss.
Minimize the risk of acquiring such a hearing loss; follow these simple guidelines: