How often do you stop and think about the importance of your ears? After all, they allow you to communicate with others, enjoy hobbies like music and movies, and protect yourself by listening for sirens or other potential signs of danger. Of course, people who are deaf or hard of hearing can also enjoy productive, happy lives. However, most people with healthy ears have a vested interested in keeping them that way.
There are many factors that can affect your hearing abilities; some may not be in your control, but many of them are. This article will review the more common issues that can affect your aural abilities. If you have any questions or concerns about your ears’ level of functioning, it is very important to talk to your doctor about where you are and where you could be.
The leading causes of hearing impairment include:
Genetics – There are many inherited conditions that can affect a person’s level of hearing. Some conditions affect the structure of the ossicles – small bones of the inner ear that vibrate in tune to sound waves. Other conditions cause a small or nonexistent ear canal, or affect the neurons that allow communication between the ear and the brain. While a genetic condition cannot be avoided if a person has the right DNA, modern technology offers many ways that people with these conditions can reduce their effects.
Infections – Ear infections are a very common cause of temporary and permanent hearing problems, especially among children. These conditions can cause fluid to build up within the ear, interfering with its functioning. They may begin within the ear, or a head cold or other illness may spread. Good hygiene and seeking medical care when sick are important to preventing these medical problems.
Trauma – Injury to the skull, brain, or ear can cause deafness. The most common example is noise-induced hearing loss, which occurs when a person is exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time without proper protection. It can also be caused by short-term exposure to an extremely loud noise, such as an explosion or jet engine. Other trauma-related issues include head injuries that affect the ear canal and damage to the occipital lobe of the brain.
Medical problems like these need prompt attention from a qualified physician, or they may lead to permanent issues for the affected person. Unfortunately, even with high quality medical care, lasting consequences can result.