Most healthcare statistics suggest that hearing loss almost affects 20 percent of the population in the USA. For some people while the condition is a result of prolonged exposure to loud, almost damaging sounds at their workplace, others suffer hearing loss because of other health conditions. Many times, people fail to join the dots that link hearing loss to other lifestyle or immunity-deficiency conditions. In this discussion, we take a look at four such conditions that can lead to hearing loss but most people don’t really understand them…
1. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
BPPV is often described as a type of dizziness caused by the collection of tiny crystals of calcium carbonate inside the inner ear. This condition can be very hard to diagnose. Often, for months, the only symptoms are bouts of headache and pain in and around the ears. This can be easily mistaken for body ache, flu or infections. These crystals are actually the result of an infection in another part of the body. This includes head injuries or other conditions that are not essentially an ‘ear problem’. Symptoms may include poor balance, nausea, dizziness, and lightheadedness—again, many of these are mistaken for common lifestyle problems or just malaise. If ignored for too long, benign Paroxysmal Vertigo can be a stepping stone to serious hearing loss. Treatment options available for BPPV include drug therapy and surgery.
2. Acoustic Neuroma
Acoustic Neuroma disrupts the transmission of pulses to the brain that helps our central nervous system ensure hearing and an overall sense of balance. This type of neuroma is noncancerous but this growth in the vestibulocochlear nerve, can cause long-term damage to hearing, often irreversible. When this neuroma surfaces along the eighth cranial nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain, hearing loss is not the first major symptom. The progressive loss in hearing acuity is expected but acoustic Neuroma can cause hearing loss if not addressed in a reasonable time. Some symptoms include Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and feeling of fullness in the ear that can be mistaken for migraine or just traveling vertigo by many.
3. Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
AIED is a rare condition that happens when the immune cells mistakenly start interpreting the inner ear’s cellular constitution as disease-causing elements. This immunity disorder is difficult to diagnose right away. Primary symptoms of the disease include tinnitus, vertigo, hearing loss, and balancing problems. Often, initial symptoms of AIED are perceived as some psychological condition. People having overlapping conditions that cause extended periods of lethargy or headaches can be difficult to diagnose for AIED. The disease starts from one ear and can even spread to another, eventually leading to hearing loss. This hearing impairment disease affects a small fraction of the population and timely diagnosis remains a challenge.
4. Meniere’s Disease
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has estimated that more than 600,000 people in the US have Meniere’s disease but overall, the awareness about this condition is rather low. More people are diagnosed each year but people who are in the high-risk group, aged in their 40s and 50s, often don’t realize the onset of this condition. Ménière’s disease is a serious inner ear disease. It usually leads to ringing in the ear, the pressure in the ear, and hearing loss that can be sudden or build-up gradually.
In Meniere’s Disease, there is fluid accumulation inside the labyrinth. This interferes with signals that the brain receives. The most common symptoms are vertigo. There might be very little hearing impairment in the beginning. What makes the diagnosis even more difficult is the fact that Meniere’s can be the result of viral infections that haven’t healed properly, serious head injuries, or poor treatment of inner ear infections. Some people might have a genetic predisposition to this condition.
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