Hearing Loss: Permanent or Temporary?

Hearing loss can be permanent or temporary. It can happen gradually or suddenly and occur in one or both ears. Either way, experiencing negative changes to your hearing can be distressing, confusing and should not be ignored.

General signs you may be experiencing permanent or temporary hearing loss, are:

  • Asking people to repeat themselves, including on the phone
  • Turning the TV or music volume up
  • Struggling to keep up with conversations
  • Feeling stressed because you can’t hear or keep up with people

You might also notice that you have earache, ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, or you feel dizzy.

If you notice any changes to your hearing it is important to seek advice from a qualified medical professional as soon as possible.

Reasons why you have hearing loss

There can be many reasons why you are experiencing hearing loss. Some of these are temporary and some may, unfortunately, be permanent and it’s possible that people around you spot it before you do.

Taking note of your symptoms so that you can report them correctly to your audiologist is the first step in seeing a diagnosis and subsequent treatment and support.

Some reasons why you have temporary or permanent hearing loss include:

  • Age
  • Ear infection
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Earwax
  • Head trauma or injury
  • Congenital causes
  • Ototoxic medications

Age

Many of us experience hearing loss as we get older and usually both ears are affected in the same way. Age-related hearing loss tends to be gradual and people who experience it may not always notice straightaway.

There are many reasons why you may experience age-related hearing loss and it is not reversible. You can, however, take steps to prevent your ears from becoming further damaged, such as protecting them from loud noises.

Having an initial consultation with a hearing specialist can help you decide the best steps for dealing with age-related hearing loss.

Ear infection

Ear infections are very common, especially so in children. Sometimes they get better on their own in a few days with no lasting impact. However, if your infection hasn’t cleared up after three days, it’s sensible to seek help.

Typically, you’ll know if you have an infection if you experience difficulty in hearing – your ear will feel 'full', there may be a discharge, and you may feel some pain and/or itching. If left untreated, ear infections can become chronic and lead to permanent hearing loss.

Some of the reasons you might have an ear infection include:

  • Viruses such as cold and flu
  • Sinus infection
  • Water in your ears

Exposure to loud noise

Working in a noisy place or listening to loud music can cause temporary hearing loss and it’s wise to protect your ears as much as possible by wearing earplugs.

If your exposure to loud noise and music is persistent, you may be at risk of developing permanent hearing loss and ringing in the ears.

Earwax

Your body produces earwax to protect your ears. Sometimes the ears can build up a lot of wax and become blocked. This can cause temporary hearing loss if left untreated because the sound waves can’t travel through your ear canal to your eardrum.

Physicians and some audiologists can remove excessive earwax without damaging your ear. It’s usually a quick and painless procedure.

Head trauma or injury

Traumatic brain injury or concussion can cause hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears and vertigo because your auditory pathways are damaged. Depending upon the severity of the injury, this can lead to either temporary or permanent hearing loss.

If your hearing loss after such an injury is permanent, it's because the hair cells and nerves inside your ear have been damaged. This means you can’t hear quiet sounds and the quality of the sound you do hear is diminished.

If you have experienced a head trauma or injury, you should also make an appointment to have a hearing evaluation after your initial medical treatment.

Congenital causes

Congenital hearing loss is hearing loss that is present at birth. Genetic or hereditary mild or severe hearing loss can affect the inner or middle ear – they may be present at birth or can occur any time later in life. There are also certain syndromes linked to genetic hearing loss.

Congenital hearing loss can also be caused by pregnancy and childbirth complications, including jaundice, maternal rubella, low birth weight and lack of oxygen when a baby is born.

Ototoxic medications

This is medicine that has an effect on the ear or its nerve supply. It includes malaria treatments, chemotherapy, aspirin, loop diuretics and some erectile dysfunction medications. These can cause temporary hearing loss.

Next steps

A positive approach to healthy hearing will pay dividends. Seeking effective treatment from a trained audiologist for your temporary or permanent hearing loss is the first step to hearing better.

With you on your journey to better hearing.

It's time to finally treat your hearing loss. Sign up for a free consultation with a licensed hearing care professional today to determine if you have hearing loss. It’s the start of your journey towards better hearing.

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