Hearing loss is a very common condition. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 1 out of every 8 Americans ages 12 and over have some form of hearing loss in both ears. This equates to 30 million Americans. Especially as we age, our hearing can become less acute. There are many different ways that hearing loss can manifest. Most people think of hearing loss as simply noises becoming less pronounced. While this is very common, there are also many other kinds of hearing loss that people can experience.
Hearing loss may also come along with additional symptoms, such as tinnitus, which is essentially a buzzing or ringing in the ears. In addition, it may manifest as selective, meaning that only certain frequencies are difficult to perceive. Keep in mind that if you are experiencing any form of hearing loss, you should make sure to visit a reputable audiologist in order to receive a full evaluation and determine how to move forward.
Regardless of the way in which one is experiencing hearing loss, it is always a very disruptive and potentially debilitating condition. It can be such a challenge that many people wonder whether or not they can ever fully regain their hearing. In this article, we will delve into the topic of hearing loss and discuss whether or not it can be reversed.
What Are the Different Kinds of Hearing Loss?
First, it’s important to understand that there are several different types of hearing loss. The four main categories of hearing loss are as follows:
- Conductive Hearing Loss: Conductive hearing loss is caused by some kind of obstruction. For example, a buildup of ear wax or fluid inside the ear canal can lead to this type of hearing loss. Whatever the obstruction may be, it acts to stop sound from getting to the inner ear, so everything may be muffled or very quiet.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss: This type of hearing loss is the most common. However, it is slightly more complex than conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear cells or or hair cells, both which work to transmit sound. This type of hearing loss can serve to disrupt the pathways that connect your inner ear to your brain.
- Mixed Hearing Loss: With mixed hearing loss, there are multiple factors which are impacting your hearing. Essentially, this is a blend of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. There can be many different combinations that produce mixed hearing loss, but for example, there may be a build-up of fluid as well as some structural damage to the cells in the inner ear.
- Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder: Finally, auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder is a very particular kind of hearing loss. It occurs when sound is received by the ear normally but the brain can’t interpret it properly. This type of hearing loss is also known as an auditory processing disorder because the issue occurs in the brain rather than the ear itself.
Is Hearing Loss Reversible?
When it comes to the question of whether or not hearing loss is reversible, it’s critical to understand that everyone is different. Therefore, some people may have success with recovering their hearing, while others might not benefit from the exact same treatment. However, in general, there are some ways in which hearing loss can be reversed or at least properly treated. The most common ways in which hearing loss can be treated and potentially reversed are:
- Removal of Irritants: One of the most successful ways to reverse hearing loss is by removing the irritant which is causing the problem. If you are suffering from conductive hearing loss, sometimes a simple ear wax removal can be enough to solve the issue.
- Surgical Procedures: In addition, sometimes surgical procedures can be performed in order to restore hearing loss. If there is structural damage, it’s possible that it can be corrected by certain procedures.
- Hearing Aids: While hearing aids don’t technically cure hearing loss, they can be very effective in treating it. They can serve to restore hearing to certain degrees, with many people achieving great success. Essentially, hearing aids work by using a very small microphone to amplify the noises around you. Thus, while they don’t technically restore hearing, they can allow you to hear things much better simply by increasing the volume of the sounds around you so that they can be perceived by your inner ear and brain.
- Cochlear Implants: Finally, another very effective way to restore hearing is by having a cochlear implant surgically inserted. They are typically used in cases of severe hearing loss which cannot be corrected by other devices, such as hearing aids. A cochlear implant works differently from a hearing aid. While a hearing aid serves to simply amplify the sound around you, a cochlear implant works to actually bypass the parts of the inner ear that aren’t working and stimulate the hearing nerve.
Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors and can manifest in many different ways. However, if you are experiencing hearing loss, know that there is hope for you. A simple ear wax removal may be all that is required to restore hearing. On the other hand, if you have more complex hearing loss, then something such as hearing aids or a cochlear implant may be required in order to restore your hearing. Regardless of your condition, be sure to consult with a qualified audiologist before making any decisions, and remember that hearing can often be improved, so it’s always important to remain hopeful and look at all your options.