Dive into the basics on the types of hearing loss, treatments and today’s cutting-edge Audientes solution.
First things first…what is hearing loss?
Simply put, hearing loss means a partial or total inability to hear sounds. It can affect one or both ears, and the symptoms range from mild to severe. When not promptly addressed, it can also begin to have further negative effects on daily life and self-esteem.
As we all know, hearing loss is deeply personal. It affects people’s most significant everyday interactions from their jobs to relationships. While finding a solution should be treated on an individual basis, it’s also an all-too-common condition with vast global reach.
In 1985, the World Health Organization (WHO) made the first report on worldwide sensorineural hearing loss at 42 million, or 1%, of the global population. Today it’s grown elevenfold to 466 million (6.1%) people. In India alone, roughly 75 million people suffer from mild to severe degrees of hearing loss, and nationwide surveys have estimated hearing loss to be the second most common cause of disability.
Since everyone hears differently, finding the right solution starts with having the right information. Join us in this discussion as we unpack the latest insights on hearing loss causes, symptoms and more for all your hearing health needs.
Rule of 3: the types of hearing loss
Before looking at the types of hearing loss, it helps first to know the three parts of the ear. This is because of something we like to call the rule of three—where the three parts of the ear are directly linked to the three types of hearing loss.
So, let’s take a look. Our ears are made up of three important parts:
Inner ear: With over 30,000 tiny hair cells, the inner ear connects to the hearing nerve and sends vital signals to your brain.
Middle ear: Where you find the eardrum and middle ear bones.
Outer ear: Made up of the external ear and ear canal.
Depending on which part of the ear is damaged, people will experience different kinds of hearing loss—sensorineural, conductive and mixed being the most common.
Take a glance below to see how these types of hearing loss relate to the parts of the ear:
1. Sensorineural hearing loss.
Damaged inner ear hair cells or a hearing nerve results in disrupted signals to the brain. It’s the most common type of hearing loss and is often permanent.
2. Conductive hearing loss.
From too much earwax to damaged eardrums, outer and middle ear issues can block sound from reaching the inner ear. These are often temporary and can be treated.
3. Mixed hearing loss
This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss and can affect all parts of the ear.
Unsurprisingly, these types of hearing loss have long been identified globally. In India, for example, a recent study in the Delhi region found that 15.8% suffered from sensorineural hearing loss, 10.3% from conductive hearing loss and 0.8% from mixed hearing loss. While only focused on one part of the country, this highlights the importance of providing more accessible hearing treatments for India’s urban and rural areas.
Main takeaway – The rule of 3 – with the link between the three types of hearing loss and the three parts of the ear – is all-too-common around the world and needs a modern solution.
What causes hearing loss?
Young or old, urban or rural—the people dealing with hearing disabilities share many similarities across the globe. When looking specifically at significant hearing loss in India, which is above the global average with 6.3% of its population, the reasons for it are often exacerbated by living and working conditions along with lack of access to specialized healthcare
Common causes around the world depend on the type of hearing loss that is experienced. Sensorineural damage is often permanent while conductive damage can normally be treated medically. (Credit Hough Ear Institute)
According to the WHO, which is behind some of the most comprehensive hearing health studies in India, the most common causes fall into four main areas:
Earwax buildup (conductive). Making up 9% of those with hearing loss, this is the biggest cause but also one of the most treatable cases.
Natural aging process (sensorineural). Also known as age-related hearing loss, this is the second largest cause with 3%.
Ear inflammation or fluid buildup (conductive). Known as the “otitis media” or inflammation of the middle ear, these mostly affect children and make up 3% of hearing loss cases.
Loud noise exposure (sensorineural). There’s no exact percentage, but the WHO identifies excessive noise damage as a huge risk throughout the world and brings irreversible damage.
While most of these causes have cures or treatments, most of the people in India don’t have basic medical resources available. For a country of over 1.3 billion people, the largest remaining barrier for those with hearing disabilities is access to nearby treatment. The figures are shocking:
Audiologists: one for every half million people
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists: one for every 195 people
Otologists: one for every 683 people
Making things more difficult is the fact that most of these specialists are concentrated in urban areas, often leaving those in rural locations without any convenient options.
Main takeaway – Although hearing loss has many causes and solutions, lack of treatment can be equally damaging in the long-term.
How do I know I have hearing loss?
Three telltale signs of hearing loss
For the millions of people that suffer from hearing loss, hearing loss can take many forms. But, most importantly, there isn’t one obvious moment that will suddenly reveal to the world if you have hearing loss or not.
Instead, it usually happens silently and gradually over time, which is why we’ve put together a list of three common signs and involved scenarios that can help to easily identify hearing loss.
Sign #1 – More volume, please!
Whether it’s the TV or someone talking, hearing loss is almost always about volume. People suffering from hearing loss typically:
- Have trouble holding a conversation in noisy areas and social settings
- Can’t comprehend speech in person or over the phone
- Don’t hear high-pitched sounds like rainfall or birds singing
These symptoms most often result in frequent requests to “turn up the volume” or to “repeat yourself.”
Sign #2 – Ring, ring—it’s Tinnitus
15-20% of the world’s population is all too familiar with tinnitus, often described as a “ringing of the ears.” But other noises people experience are:
Sound familiar? From concerts to Covid-19, tinnitus has many potential causes. Uncover the rest about symptoms and treatment in this expert analysis from Audientes.
Sign #3 – Not one’s normal self
With most people, hearing loss happens gradually over time. And it can be different for both ears. That means people’s habits and confidence can change, so it’s also important to notice if someone has:
- A “favorite” ear. This is when one ear hears better than the other.
- Anti-social behavior. Staying away from social events due to hearing loss is all too common.
- Seeing, not hearing. Anything outside visual range doesn’t get noticed like a ringing phone or someone talking from another room.
Hearing loss, especially untreated, can lead people to feel a swell of emotions from stress and denial to isolation and depression. That’s why it’s ever-important to treat hearing loss as soon as any gradual changes become clear.
Main takeaway – A negative change in behavior, ringing of the ears (tinnitus) or growing need for higher volume are all typical signs of hearing loss, and it’s recommended to be checked as soon as possible.
How can I hear again?
How to treat your hearing loss
The treatments available depend on the specific type of hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Inner ear damage is best treated with hearing aids. Since the inner hear hair-like cells can’t be surgically or medically repaired, hearing devices offer a reliable long-term solution.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Middle- and outer-ear issues are best treated through medicine or surgery. If unable to get medical help, hearing aids can also be valuable.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Depending on individual needs, it will be a mix of hearing aids, medicine or surgery. Remember: hearing aids are best for the sensorineural side, medical treatment for the conductive side.
In a perfect world, you want to check your hearing and get the right treatments by visiting a specialist every few years. But the reality is, for most people, this is not always possible. In many countries it’s a lengthy and expensive process which involves doctor’s visits, appointments with an audiologist and regular fine tuning.
While this is the traditional way, it’s not the only way. Do-it-yourself hearing loss treatments are always improving with more accessible medical remedies, hearing aids and all-new digital technology. But for sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus cases, today’s groundbreaking hearing aids are the next revolution.
The world’s first truly self-fitting hearing aid
At Audientes, our primary focus has always been to make high-quality hearing aids available to the millions of people around the world who suffer from disabling hearing loss. Moreover, we want to break through all the age-old barriers:
- High cost of hearing aids
- Shortage of audiologists and hearing specialists
- Costly and difficult fitting process
- Recurrent costs of hearing aids
To do this, we’ve designed a complete and high-quality solution. Now for the first time, people with mild to severe hearing loss can easily access our self-guided and professional hearing test from the comfort of their homes.
Meet the Audientes self-fitting hearing aid with a setup as easy as 1-2-3.
Identifying which hearing aid is best for mild to profound hearing loss starts and stops with our hearing aid. Together with the intuitive and user-friendly phone app we’re pioneering to help reduce hearing loss symptoms, our innovative self-fitting hearing aid bring a trustworthy digital alternative to traditional healthcare services.
Available online or over the counter for a fraction of the cost of most other hearing aids, the Audientes hearing aid reintroduces a world of sound, experiences and human connections to the millions of people who no longer want to suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Battling the hearing aid stigma
What’s the stigma if no one even knows the hearing aid is there?
For too long, the only choice to improve tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss has been through clunky and conspicuous hearing devices. Everyone who saw it knew what it was, and this could sometimes create an uncomfortable obstacle for communication. Once again, Audientes crafted the perfect solution.
Designed for maximum comfort, the Audientes hearing aid is nestled discreetly under your collar, and the lightweight but robust neckband with its simple controls looks nothing like a traditional hearing aid. Ergonomically designed, the headset is modern, fashionable and subtle. No one will guess it’s a hearing aid and, it’s so comfortable, you’ll forget you’re wearing it.
Main takeaway – The Audientes hearing aid is a digital hearing aid solution for those suffering from tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss. You can easily set it up yourself in 3 simple steps, and its sleek and subtle design means that it is the perfect modern companion to transform your life on the move.
Experience Audientes anywhere
Wherever you are, the all-new Audientes hearing aid is ready to come to you. Whether through contactless delivery, click and collect or at your nearest Audientes Experience Center, we promise that geography will no longer stop you from accessing the perfect self-fitting hearing aid.
Experience Audientes for yourself