Hearing loss, commonly referred to as deafness, is a term that makes reference to the inability to hear. The degree to which one has hearing loss is based on two things; whether the deafness is partial or complete. In the former, the individual’s sensitivity to the sounds which are ordinarily heard is reduced. It is important to distinguish this from the term hearing impairment. This is due to the fact that the latter is used to describe individuals who are insensitive to the sound in normal day-to-day speech.

The degree of hearing loss is grouped dependent on a gradual increase in the number of decibels higher than the normal level before the individual is able to pick up the sounds. There are numerous causes of hearing loss, with the first been age. As people age, the ability to hear slowly diminishes. This is quite different from hearing loss originating from disease or noise. Diseases such as mumps and meningitis may lead to loss of hearing. Constant exposure to noise also damages the auditory system, so that with time, hearing ability may be lost. Certain medicines, especially antibiotics, may also lead to permanent ear damage. Trauma to the head may damage parts of the brain that transmit audio signals, leading to hearing loss.

Diagnosis of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is graded in several levels, dependent on the severity of the condition. The levels include mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe and profound (or extreme). These levels are decided by the increase in intensity of a sound above a given threshold that is mandatory for the patient to detect. The sounds are measured in decibels of hearing loss, abbreviated dB HL. An individual’s sensitivity to hearing is a variable especially because this is dependent on the frequency of the sounds. As a result this may be measured and the results displayed on an audiogram.

Types of Hearing Loss

Another way to group hearing loss is in the way hat the condition presents itself. The first is known as before language. As the name implies, this is a condition that is acquired before the individual learns how to talk. It may be congenital, meaning that one is born with it, or may be acquired in the early stages after birth. This hampers will developmental milestones in kids such as the ability to speak. On the contrary, after language hearing loss, also post-lingual hearing loss manifests after the individual has learnt to speak. This is usually a gradual process, and is the more common of the two types. There is also unilateral and bilateral hear loss. In the former, one experiences the inability to hear in one ear, while the second occurs for both ears. Some of the cases in hearing loss are preventable, so measures must be put in place to avert such.

Additional Reading

Wikipedia on Hearing Loss

What is Hearing Loss? by Medical News Today

Types of Hearing Loss by Hearing Loss Association of America

Hearing Loss