The 4 Most Common Problems Affecting the Ears

a woman experiencing slight ear discomfort

As we get older, our hearing begins to change. According to the Hearing Los Association of America statistics, around 48 million are affected by some degree of hearing impairment. Unfortunately, we often neglect hearing loss and impairment until we become aware of the changes.

These changes can have a significant effect on our hearing, whether it’s immediate or over time. Looking out for signs of hearing impairment can be helpful for anyone who is experiencing hearing loss.

How does your hearing work?

Hearing is the process by which we hear sounds and understand speech. Sound waves travel through the air and reach our ears, where they vibrate. This causes motion in our ear’s eardrum and ossicles (tiny bones in the middle ear), which transmits sound to our inner ear.

The inner ear converts sound waves into nerve impulses carried along a pathway called the cochlear nerve to your brain, where they are interpreted as sound.

How can hearing loss occur?

It becomes harder to hear higher frequency sounds because the small hair cells, called cilia, in your cochlea, the snail-shaped structure in your ear, become damaged over time. It can be temporary or permanent, partial or total. Hearing loss can occur for various reasons, such as aging, exposure to loud noises, earwax buildup, and certain medical conditions.

Inner ear damage could be caused by sudden changes in air pressure from an airplane flight or from swimming underwater for extended periods. Furthermore, Outer ear damage can happen when people use cotton swabs and other objects to clean their ears and accidentally push too far into the canal.

The level of hearing loss or impairment depends on the effect of these problems, and many of them differ from person to person.

What are the most common problems that affect the ears?

There are different types of hearing loss that one can experience in their life. These include earwax buildup, fluid buildup in the ears, infections, and ear trauma. But which are the most common among the long list of issues that can affect your hearing. Some of the most common problems that can affect your hearing are:

Ear Infection

An ear infection results from bacteria or viruses that enter the outer or middle ear canal and produce inflammation. They typically follow an upper respiratory tract infection and account for about 15% of all childhood illnesses.

People with a compromised immune system are at higher risk of developing an ear infection. Other factors that can increase your risk factor for this condition include those with diabetes and taking certain medications such as aminoglycosides or loop diuretics.

They can also include those who suffer from allergies, those who have had their tonsils removed, those who have had their eardrums perforated for any reason, or even people who work in water all day long.

Aging

Aging is one of the most common causes of hearing impairment and loss. Aging can affect how you listen to sounds, making it challenging to hear higher-pitched sounds. This is because as we get older, the small hair cells in our inner ear, the Cilla, break and erode over time, resulting in hearing loss.

Impacted Earwax

Earwax is a natural substance that can be seen as white or yellowish discoloration on the outer part of the ear canal. It is made up of various fats, waxes, glandular secretions, hair, and skin cells. Earwax helps to lubricate and protect the ear canal by trapping dirt and particles entering the inner ear. However, it may also clog your ears with accumulation or be impacted by an obstruction, leading to hearing problems.

The reason for this is that once there are any blockages, they affect fluid drainage in your inner ear, which will eventually lead to loss of hearing.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a phantom sound that usually occurs in one or both ears. It can also happen in the head, but it is rarer. The cause of tinnitus is still unknown, but there are many different contributing factors, including age, hearing loss, stress, and physical injury to the ear.

Tinnitus also runs in families, so there are ways to try and prevent it from developing by screening your child for hearing problems when they are young.

How do you get help with these common problems?

Knowing what type of hearing loss you have will help you find the best solution for your needs—getting in touch with an ear specialist who can give you the support you need. To learn more about Vero ENT Associates, you can call 772-563-0015.