Bilateral Hearing Loss Explained
Many people across the world live with hearing loss, and this can develop in one or both ears. Hearing loss that affects both ears is referred to as bilateral hearing loss. There are many causes of bilateral hearing loss, and this can be conductive, where there is difficulty in sound conduction through the ear, or sensorineural, where there is damage to the ear.
Bilateral hearing loss can occur over a long period of time or very suddenly, and if you experience either of these, you should consult a GP or audiologist as soon as possible.
What Causes Bilateral Hearing Loss?
Bilateral hearing loss can be caused by several different things, including:
1.Congenital factors. Some bilateral hearing loss is present from birth, where hearing loss, or the propensity to develop it, is inherited from one or both parents.
2. Medications. Some medications, including prescription medicines, can cause damage to the ears and are known as ototoxic drugs. If you have a family history of hearing loss, you should discuss this with your doctor when he or she prescribes any medication for you, as there will usually be a suitable alternative that is not ototoxic.
3. Exposure to loud noises. Being exposed to loud noises, such as in a noisy environment like a music concert or a building site, can cause temporary or long-term damage to the ears. Even a short exposure to a single very loud noise such as a jet engine can cause permanent hearing loss.
4. Physical damage. Hearing loss can result from physical damage to the hearing organs, including perforation of the eardrum or a buildup of earwax. Protecting the ears when you are taking part in sports that carry a risk of head trauma is essential in order to prevent hearing loss.
5. Ear infections. Many people, especially children, are susceptible to ear infections, which can cause blockages or structural damage to the ears and hearing organs. Damage is more likely to be permanent if infections are experienced many times, or are very severe in nature.
How Is Bilateral Hearing Loss Treated?
Bilateral hearing loss can sometimes be corrected using cochlear implants, which are especially successful where hearing loss has been present since birth. This requires the implant to be inserted into the inner ear, and research into these devices and their potential is positive and ongoing.
Hearing aids, especially the most modern, digital hearing aids, can offer an excellent hearing experience by decoding and interpreting the sounds around you and amplifying them. Many devices can connect directly with systems such as mp3 players and mobile phones, and wearing two hearing aids often enables a balanced and comprehensive hearing solution that can prevent further deterioration of hearing.