There’s a lot that can go wrong with your ears. Hearing issues can impact virtually all ranges of sound, and may even manifest in only one ear. The good news is that if you get examined soon enough, you can mitigate — in some cases, even treat — your hearing impairment.
You’re Having Trouble Hearing People Speak
High-frequency hearing impairment is among the most common types of hearing loss. It reduces your capacity to hear sounds such as voices or phone alerts. Many people with age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, will also have difficulty making out certain consonants.
If you’re only having difficulty hearing masculine voices and other lower-pitched sounds such as thunder, it may be low-frequency hearing loss, also known as reverse slope hearing loss. It tends to be relatively rare compared to high-frequency hearing loss and may be caused by the early onset of Meniere’s disease. You may also find yourself with unusual sensitivity to high-pitched noises.
Everything Has to Be Loud
If you’re having trouble hearing anything at an ordinary volume level but can still hear loud or sudden noises like a truck’s horn or a fire alarm, it may be a sign of midrange-frequency hearing loss. With this condition, regular everyday noises are difficult to make out. You may have difficulty hearing music in a restaurant, or conversing with anyone, regardless of the pitch of their voice.
You’ve Recently Been Exposed to Extreme Noise
Traumatic noise is among the most common causes of hearing loss. If you’ve been exposed to an extremely loud environment such as a construction site, a firing range, or an airport runway, it may be worth your time to visit an audiologist. Hearing loss of this nature can manifest in a few ways.
Noise notch hearing loss shares many similarities with standard high-frequency hearing loss. The main difference is that you may still be able to hear certain high-pitched sounds. Noise notch hearing loss can also manifest after being exposed to a loud noise like a crash or an explosion.
Such hearing loss may not be permanent, particularly if you suffered only a single instance of exposure. However, just as striking a bruise repeatedly makes the damage more severe, repeated exposure to noise increases the likelihood that the damage will be permanent. Temporary hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus and can last hours or weeks.
You Suffered Recent Head Trauma
With conductive hearing loss, the outer ear is not working properly, even as the inner ear continues to work. This is most commonly caused by physical trauma to the ear, such as through a head injury or improperly inserting an object into the ear. It can also be the result of an infection or birth defect.
Conductive hearing loss usually has a very sudden onset, often accompanied by a loud popping sound. Sounds may seem muffled, and you may have trouble distinguishing sounds regardless of pitch. This is usually known as flat hearing loss.
Your Ears Feel Strange
If you have a feeling of fullness in your ear or you’ve noticed a strange discharge, I’d advise speaking to a healthcare professional immediately. Likewise, if there’s a foul odor or severe pain, it may be something serious. It’s imperative that you receive prompt treatment, as it can be the difference between temporary hearing impairment and permanent hearing loss.
Understanding Your Ears
Many types of hearing impairment are treatable if caught early enough, but permanent hearing loss cannot be reversed. Your best bet is to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist or audiologist. They can help you figure out what to do, whether that’s cochlear implants, a hearing aid, or a bone-anchored system.