Hearing health is important. It is necessary to understand how our hearing works and the symptoms to look for in case of hearing loss. The most important thing to do if you think you have a hearing problem is to go see a hearing healthcare professional, such as an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose and throat.
Hearing loss is not just an age-related disability; it is affecting people at younger and younger ages. A study for WorkSafe BC found that 25% of young people entering the workforce had the early warning signs of hearing loss, with a further 4.6% showing “abnormal” results on hearing tests (WorkSafe BC, 2005).
Noise damage is one of the leading causes of hearing loss today. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can occur after a single exposure to a very loud sound, such as an explosion or, more commonly, as the cumulative result of long-term overexposure to moderate or loud sounds, including industrial machinery and music. NIHL is cumulative, permanent and irreversible.
More than 360,000 Canadians experience tinnitus, the perception of noise in one’s head and/or ears that has no external sound source, and which can be occasional, intermittent or continuous (e.g. ringing, buzzing, clicking). For almost half of these Canadians, the condition is serious and greatly impacts their lives. For some, tinnitus is incapacitating.
Difficult to diagnose and treat, Ménière’s disease is caused by excessive fluid in the inner ear. Symptoms include attacks of vertigo, severe imbalance, nausea, roaring sounds, and pressure in the ear that can cause hearing damage.
For sufferers of Ménière’s disease, the room seems to spin and rotate, leading to nausea and vomiting. Hearing loss fluctuates, and tinnitus may be variable and sometimes worsen prior to an attack of vertigo.
Otitis media, a severe ear infection, is one of the leading causes of conductive hearing loss. Colds, sinusitis or allergies cause fluid to build up in the middle ear causing ear pain and muffled hearing. Repeated bouts of otitis media may lead to permanent hearing loss.
This inflammation often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory or breathing problems spread to the middle ear.
Explosive advancements in technology in recent years have dramatically improved communication and quality of life for people living with hearing loss.
Hearing aids, assistive devices, captioning, computer technology, personal communication devices and enhanced telephone capabilities are technical options that contribute to effective communication in all areas of life. The following is a short overview of the types of technology available today.