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Severe Hearing Loss

Severe hearing loss is a challenging condition that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. However, by understanding and addressing this condition, individuals can strive for a normal and comfortable lifestyle.

Understanding Severe Hearing Loss

Severe hearing loss refers to a condition where individuals experience difficulty in perceiving sounds. People with this type of hearing loss often struggle to hear and comprehend conversations held at normal conversational volumes. They may only perceive exceptionally loud sounds with clarity and struggle to decipher softer sounds.

Causes of Severe Hearing Loss

Severe hearing loss can stem from various factors, affecting individuals across all age groups. It’s important to recognise that hearing loss is not exclusive to a specific demographic and can result from diverse triggering events.

Hearing Loss at Birth

To comprehend the causes of hearing loss, it is essential to gain insight into the intricate workings of the ear. Sound travels through the air in the form of sound waves, causing vibrations in the eardrum. These vibrations then pass on to the tiny bones in the ear, creating waves in the fluid within the inner ear. These waves stimulate minuscule hair cells connected to nerves, which subsequently transmit electrical signals to the auditory nerve and finally to the brain.

Given the complexity of this process, any abnormalities in the genes associated with hearing can potentially lead to hearing loss. In many instances, this condition manifests from birth, with over half of severe hearing loss cases in infants attributed to genetic factors.

Additionally, hearing loss can result from issues during foetal development. Medications taken during pregnancy may cause severe hearing loss or even deafness in the new born. Infections contracted by the mother, such as cytomegalovirus, can also lead to hearing loss in the baby.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can manifest at any stage of life due to various causes.

Here are some examples:


Exposure to a single loud noise event, such as an explosion, or prolonged exposure to loud sounds like loud music or construction equipment without proper ear protection can damage hearing.


Certain health conditions like brain tumours, rheumatoid arthritis, ear infections, and autoimmune diseases can affect hearing. Meniere’s disease, a condition affecting the inner ear, can also contribute to hearing loss.


Accumulation of earwax or foreign objects lodged in the ear canal can lead to hearing loss. It is crucial to avoid inserting anything into the ear to prevent such complications.


Head trauma resulting from accidents or activities involving significant pressure changes, such as scuba diving or skydiving, can impair hearing.


Some medications used to treat cancer, heart disease, and severe infections can cause ear damage and subsequent hearing loss. In certain cases, this hearing loss may be temporary and resolve after the completion of the treatment.

Symptoms of Severe Hearing Loss

Severe hearing loss manifests through various symptoms. If you experience difficulty hearing voices in group settings, during conversations, in noisy environments, or over the phone, it may indicate hearing loss. Additionally, constantly raising the volume of the TV or radio in your car or failing to hear your alarm clock can serve as signs of hearing impairment.

Diagnosis of Severe Hearing Loss

Early diagnosis of severe hearing loss is vital for prompt intervention. Two common hearing tests are employed to evaluate the condition: automated auditory brain response and otoacoustic emissions.

During these tests, you may be asked questions such as:

  • Do you frequently perceive others as mumbling?
  • Can you easily understand someone in noisy surroundings?
  • How long have you been experiencing these issues?
  • Do you have any existing or past health conditions?
  • Is there a history of hearing loss in your family?

Treating Severe Hearing Loss

The choice of treatment for severe hearing loss depends on its underlying cause and the extent to which it affects an individual’s daily life. Technological interventions often play a crucial role in improving auditory function and enhancing clarity of sound perception.

Hearing aids are commonly used to address hearing loss. A wide range of hearing aids is available, some designed to be worn outside the ear, while others fit discreetly inside the ear. These devices amplify sound, making it easier for individuals to hear.

In more severe cases where hearing aids provide limited or no assistance, implants may be considered. Implantable devices vibrate within the ear, stimulating the nerves and facilitating auditory perception. While cochlear implants cannot restore hearing, they significantly improve hearing compared to the absence of an implant. Typically, a cochlear implant system consists of the implant itself, a microphone, a transmitter, and a speech processor. The process of implantation is tailored to each individual, requiring multiple visits to an audiologist for optimal tuning.

When to Seek Professional Assistance

If you notice any signs of hearing impairment, such as muffled or quiet voices, persistent ringing in the ears, or inner ear pain, it is essential to seek medical attention for a thorough diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Remember, severe hearing loss rarely resolves on its own, except in cases where it results from temporary medication use. Seeking professional evaluation and developing a treatment plan can significantly improve your auditory experience and overall well-being.

In conclusion, severe hearing loss poses significant challenges, but with early diagnosis and suitable interventions, individuals can regain clarity in their hearing. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatments, one can embark on a journey towards a fulfilling life enriched by improved auditory perception.