Diseases That Causes Hearing Problem

Healthy hearing depends on the series of events that change sound waves in the air into electrochemical signals within the ear. These signals are carried to the brain with the help of auditory nerve. The ear is categorized into three parts - the external ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The external ear is responsible for collecting sound, the middle ear is responsible for transform the sound and the inner ear receives the sound and is responsible for transmitting the sound.

The external ear and the middle ear are responsible for conducting sound, whereas the inner ear receives the sound. Whenever there is any problem with the middle or external ear, an impairment with the hearing occurs.  And whenever there is any problem with the inner ear, a sensorineural hearing impairment occurs.

A hearing is one of the most important senses and inability to hear due to hearing loss substantially affects the quality of life of an individual and the quality of life is substantially reduced. Hearing loss is a symptom that can cause various psychological problems such as depression, stress, and anxiety problems. There are multiple numbers of problems that contribute to hearing loss and here is the list of some of the diseases that are associated with hearing loss.

1. Usher syndrome

Usher syndrome is an inherited condition and is the most common condition that affects both hearing and vision. Usher syndrome is characterized by sensorineural deafness and visual impairment due to retinitis pigmentosa. The retina is the light sensitive tissue that is located at the back of the eye and plays a crucial role in vision.  Retinitis pigmentosa leads to loss of peripheral vision. Usher syndrome is of three types:

  • Type 1 - People with type 1 usher syndrome are deaf at birth and experience severe balance problems. Sometimes, patients also experience symptoms like night blindness and loss of peripheral vision.
  • Type 2 - People with type 2 usher syndrome are not deaf at birth but the newborn experience moderate to severe hearing impairments.
  • Type 3 - People with type 3 usher syndrome are born with normal hearing power or with just a little hearing impairment but during the puberty, they start experiencing hearing and vision problems.  

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2. Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is a condition which is characterized by an abnormal growth of bone of the middle ear. This abnormal growth of the bone affect the functioning of the ears and causes hearing loss. Otosclerosis is a condition in which an individual experience difficulty with both the inner ear and the middle ear. Different types of hearing loss can occur in otosclerosis and it depends on which structure within the ear is affected. Most commonly, it affects the last bone which rests in the entrance of the inner ear. Hearing loss is the most common symptom of otosclerosis and sometimes it is accompanied by other symptoms such as balance problem, tinnitus, and sensation of ringing in the ear. Otosclerosis is of two types:

  • Cochlear Otosclerosis - Whenever an otosclerosis spreads to the inner ear, an interference with nerve function occurs and this may lead to sensorineural hearing impairment. This nerve impairment is known as cochlear otosclerosis.
  • Stapedial Otosclerosis - When otosclerosis spreads to the stapes, an interference with its motion leads to conductive hearing impairment. This type of impairment is known as stapedial otosclerosis.

Most often, osteoporosis occurs when one of the bones in the ear gets stuck in place. When the bone is unable to vibrate, the sound does not travel through the ear. As a result, hearing is impaired.

3. Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is the chronic and incurable disease of the inner ear which is characterized by a recurrent attack of vertigo, accompanied by symptoms like fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss, a sensation of ringing in the ears and the sense of aural fullness. The hearing loss in this disease is fluctuating which means that it comes and goes, alternating between ears for some time. As this disease progresses, it becomes permanent and ears are unable to function normally.

It is believed that endolymphatic hydrops is linked to the development of meniere’s disease. Endolymphatic hydrops is defined as an excess of fluid in the inner ear. When the endolymphatic fluid burst from its normal channel in the ears and flows to other organs and cause damage. Although this disease can develop at any age, multiple studies suggest that adults between 40 to 60 years of age are more likely to develop this condition.  

Meniere’s disease is characterized by recurrent attacks of vertigo and the severity of the attack can vary from one person to another. Vertigo is defined as a sensation of spinning dizziness. A person who suffers from vertigo feels that their head or their surroundings are moving or spinning.

4. Otitis Media

Otitis media is defined as an inflammation of the inner ear. Most often, this inflammation occurs when an infection that causes sore throats, cold, and other respiratory problems spread to the middle ear. According to the studies, children are more likely to suffer from otitis media and there are several reasons behind it. Firstly, the immune system of children is not fully developed which means that they find difficulty in fighting with infections. Secondly, the adenoids in children are larger than they are in adults and larger adenoids interfere with eustachian tube opening which contributes to the development of otitis media in several ways. There are two types of otitis media:

  • Acute otitis media - It is most common in children and this type of otitis media has signs and symptoms of middle ear inflammation along with signs and symptoms of acute infection.
  • Chronic otitis media - In this type of otitis media, the signs and symptoms of middle ear inflammation occur but without any signs and symptoms of acute infection.  

5. Presbycusis

Presbycusis is a age related hearing disorder and it is the most frequent cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Although it is common in an individual as they grow, it can occur in people of any age. There are many causes of presbycusis and usually, it arises when the changes occur in the inner year or from complex changes along the nerve pathway leading to the brain. Presbycusis is associated with multiple symptoms and some of the symptoms include, difficulty to hear a high pitched sound, difficult to understand the conversation, and certain sound seems to be annoying.

The two common cause of presbycusis is the normal aging process of the hearing system and the damage to the when the damage occurs due to exposure to loud voices. Other factors include age related diseases, toxic effects from drugs, heredity, and diet.  


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