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Understanding Hearing Loss

Understanding Hearing Loss

The most common form of profound hearing loss is age-related and known technically as presbycusis. This is an age-related hearing loss and around 60% of people in their 60s will notice its effect and begin to ponder hearing aids. Usually, these hearing losses are in the range of 30 to 60 decibels, being mild to moderate.

Correlation with Cognitive Decline

There is growing evidence that hearing loss is one of several modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline in age. It is recommended that early hearing loss be taken very seriously and intervention strategies be employed early to minimise risks that may accrue with cognitive function.

Symptoms Associated With Hearing Loss

Typical difficulties are:

  • Difficulty understanding conversation in background noise
  • Perception that other people are mumbling
  • Difficulty hearing the softer voices of women and children
  • Television or radio being too loud for others
  • Not hearing the indicators in your car
  • Routinely needing the mobile phone on loudspeaker to hear clearly
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears

Less common are conductive hearing losses often seen in young children with fluid in their middle ears and sometimes in adults who have had a trauma or infection damaging the ear drum.

Mixed hearing losses are a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses.

Hearing Loss in One Ear

Hearing loss in one ear, known as unilateral hearing loss, can result from various factors such as infections, trauma, or issues with the auditory nerve. Single-sided deafness can be sensorineural or conductive in nature, depending on the underlying cause. 

Individuals with unilateral hearing loss may experience difficulty localising sounds and understanding speech, particularly in noisy environments. Early detection through hearing tests is crucial for proper management, especially if sudden hearing loss symptoms are present.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in One Ear

Symptoms of hearing loss in one ear include difficulty understanding speech, trouble localising sounds, and a sensation of fullness or pressure in the affected ear. Individuals may also experience ringing or buzzing sensations known as tinnitus. 

Noise-induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs due to exposure to loud noises, leading to damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is often sensorineural and can result from exposure to industrial noise, acoustic trauma, or loud recreational activities. Prevention strategies include using ear protection devices in noisy environments and limiting exposure to loud sounds to prevent sudden hearing loss or industrial hearing loss.

Environments That Could Cause Hearing Loss

Environments with high levels of noise, such as construction sites or industrial workplaces, pose a significant risk of causing noise-induced hearing loss or industrial hearing loss. 

Continuous exposure to loud sounds without adequate protection can lead to permanent damage to the auditory system, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss. It is crucial to wear hearing protection devices and implement noise control measures to prevent hearing loss.

Ear Infection Hearing Loss

Ear infections can lead to temporary conductive hearing loss, particularly if they affect the middle ear and result in fluid buildup or middle ear obstruction. This obstruction can interfere with sound transmission, causing muffled hearing or difficulty understanding speech. 

Prompt treatment with antibiotics or other medications prescribed by a healthcare professional is essential to prevent complications and restore hearing function. Failure to address ear infections promptly can lead to chronic issues and potential long-term sensorineural hearing loss.

How to Avoid an Ear Infection?

To reduce the risk of ear infections, practise good hygiene by washing hands regularly and avoiding inserting objects into the ear canal. Keep ears dry after swimming or showering to prevent inner ear impairment or neural hearing impairment due to moisture buildup. 

Additionally, minimise exposure to individuals with respiratory infections to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that can cause ear infections. If prone to recurrent ear infections, consider using earplugs when swimming and seeking medical advice on preventive measures.

Contact ACE Audiology

If you have concerns about your hearing acuity please feel free to use the links on this web page to “Contact us” for further information or to request a preferred time.


What causes hearing loss in just one ear?

Hearing loss in one ear can stem from various factors, including infections like otitis media or trauma to the head. It may also result from issues like acoustic neuroma or sudden sensorineural hearing loss, affecting the inner ear or auditory nerve.

What are the early signs of hearing loss in one ear?

Early signs of hearing loss in one ear include difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, frequent requests for repetition, and turning up the volume on devices. Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) may also occur.

How loud does a sound need to be to cause hearing damage?

Sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can cause loud sound-induced hearing damage with prolonged exposure. Exposure to sounds around 120 dB, like fireworks, can lead to immediate damage, while those at 85 dB, such as heavy traffic, can cause gradual hearing loss over time.

Are there specific industries or occupations with higher rates of noise-induced hearing loss?

Yes, industries like construction, manufacturing, and entertainment (music venues) have higher rates of noise-induced hearing loss due to regular exposure to loud noise. Without proper hearing protection, workers in these industries are at increased risk of an occupational hearing impairment.

What types of ear infections can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss?

Acute otitis media and chronic otitis media with effusion can cause temporary hearing loss if untreated. Severe or recurrent infections may lead to permanent hearing loss, especially if they damage inner ear structures.

Are certain age groups more prone to ear infections than others?

Yes, infants and young children, particularly those between 6 months and 2 years old, are more prone to ear infections due to developing immune systems and smaller Eustachian tubes. However, ear infections can occur at any age, with some adults also experiencing them, especially if they have underlying health conditions.