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Hearing loss – Myths & Truths

  1. Hearing loss has no solution.

MYTH. In most cases, hearing loss can be treated with the use of hearing aids. Increasingly modern and comfortable, these devices amplify sounds, helping people to rehabilitate their hearing.

  1. Deafness basically affects elderly people.

MYTH. With natural ageing, there is a decrease in the physiological decline of auditory cells. Usually, around the age of 60, the person begins to have difficulties in hearing and understanding speech, so it is common for complaints of “I hear, but I don’t understand”. If not diagnosed and treated correctly, presbycusis – the name of the loss caused by natural ageing – can cause a lot of damage to the elderly, such as isolation due to the inability to communicate and even depression.

  1. There is no need to use cotton swabs to clean the ear.

TRUTH. The ear has its own mechanisms that push the excess wax out. Just remove this excess on the outside with a soft fabric, like the end of a towel. The use of cotton swabs inside the ear canal can push the wax towards the tympanic membrane, causing deafness or even damage to the eardrum. For this reason, avoid introducing both cotton swabs and other objects such as staples, pen caps or toothpicks.

  1. Listening to loud music through headphones can cause deafness.

TRUTH. Hearing loss happens because loud sound causes damage to auditory sensory cells and they do not regenerate. The maximum recommended sound exposure limit is 85 decibels, with an exposure time not exceeding 8 hours. Check out some precautions to use headphones safely.

  1. Noises like the hairdryer are not bad for your hearing.

MYTH. Prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing health. The use of hearing protectors would be an important point to avoid future hearing problems. As well as conducting frequent hearing tests to monitor your hearing.

  1. Some medications can damage your hearing.

TRUTH. There are about 200 ototoxic drugs (antibiotics such as streptomycin used to treat tuberculosis, diuretics and even some substances based on acetylsalicylic acid) that can cause damage to the cochlear and vestibular system – structures that are very important for hearing. As it is often difficult for the patient to know this list, it is worth asking the doctor about the risks of the medication and doing frequent hearing tests to monitor possible hearing loss if you need to use ototoxic medication.

  1. Smoking can cause tinnitus.

TRUTH. Several studies actually point out the relationship between smoking and hearing loss and, consequently, with the development of tinnitus. A study by the University of Manchester, UK, for example, found that smokers are 15% more likely to suffer from hearing loss. To reach this conclusion, the survey considered the data of more than 50 thousand volunteers, who have been observed since 2007.

  1. Climbing mountains can cause deafness.

MYTH. The change in altitude can cause some discomfort such as the pressure we feel in the ear when descending a mountain range or when taking off from the plane. This is usually a temporary annoyance because the internal pressure of the ear is balanced with the ambient pressure. But in some cases – when there is a sudden change, for example – the so-called “barotrauma” can occur. It is characterized by severe ear pain, which can be so severe that it becomes disabling, severe hearing loss, very intense tinnitus, vertigo and rupture of the eardrum. To avoid the problem, the solution is simple: avoid sudden changes in altitude.

  1. An ear infection can cause hearing loss.

TRUTH. Ear infections can cause hearing loss if they happen repeatedly. It is necessary to be especially attentive to children – they, for physiological reasons (the channel that connects the auditory tube to the nose is short and horizontal in children – who often suffer from them. To avoid them, the ideal is to keep ears without fluid build-up, treating colds and breathing problems that can also cause hearing problems.