Why Hair Loss Can Lead to Hearing Loss
You probably know that loud sounds can damage your hearing, but what does this have to do with hair loss? Firstly, it’s not hair loss from your head that impairs hearing! Of course, hair loss from your head can be incredibly distressing for other reasons, but it won’t make any difference to your hearing. It is the hair in your inner ear that allows the brain to interpret sound waves. Without inner ear hair, you wouldn’t hear anything, no matter how loud.
How Loud Sound Causes Hair Loss
A sound is a form of vibrational energy. This energy is picked up by the inner hairs in your ear and transmitted to the brain as an electrical impulse. You might think that you get information fastest through your eyes, but your ear hairs respond 1000 times faster than your visual receptor cells. This means you hear sounds faster than your brain interprets what you see. When your brain interprets the electrical impulse, this is how you hear sound and how loud it is.
Noise Exposure and Hearing Loss
Loud sound damages your inner ear hair and reduces the energy they can pick up from sound waves. This distorts sound, and slight damage may not be noticeable as it is only the highest pitches (sounds) that you will not hear. The more damage there is, the more your hearing is affected. You may experience different types of hearing loss, including:
- Difficulty hearing someone speak if there is a lot of background noise
- Finding it hard to understand if someone speaks fast or has an accent
- Not being able to hear quiet or softer sounds.
Hearing loss can be temporary, like when you get ringing in your ears after a concert or listening to loud music. But repeated exposure to loud sounds can lead to major damage to your ear’s inner hairs and cause permanent hearing loss.
To find out if you have damaged your hearing, you will need a hearing test which an audiologist should conduct. We asked Lee Fletcher, Company Director and Principal Audiologist at Regain Hearing, why you should visit an audiologist for a hearing test if you have concerns about hearing loss.
He told us, “Audiologists train for three years, and they test your ability to hear a range of different types, pitches, and volumes of sound. After assessing your results to ensure they can restore the very best sound, they prescribe hearing aids and show you how to adjust them. If your hearing aid is bought without an audiologist assessment, it’s like trying to choose the right glasses without a sight test!”
Hearing Loss: FAQs
1. What Does an Audiologist Do?
An audiologist is a health care professional who tests hearing, diagnoses, and manages hearing loss and balance disorders.
Common hearing problems an audiologist can assess and manage include:
- Hearing loss
- Balance problems
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
2. What Happens if You Don’t Treat Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss may not seem a serious problem, especially if it’s only mild to moderate. However, you may not know that hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia. This results from your brain receiving fewer electoral impulses from sound waves and not working as hard.
It’s a bit like a muscle you build up with exercise, but if you reduce how much you exercise, it starts to shrink. When your brain is not working hard, over time your cognitive ability will begin to decline. Research has indicated that mild hearing loss doubles the risk of dementia, and you are three times as likely to get dementia with moderate hearing loss.
3. How is Hearing Loss Cured?
Although scientists are researching how stem cells could cure hearing loss, at present, hearing loss can not be cured. If you have severe hearing loss or are deaf, cochlear implants can help improve your hearing. For mild to moderate hearing loss, a hearing aid can restore your ability to hear a broader range of sounds and sound more clearly.
4. What Are the Best Hearing Aids?
This is not as simple as you may think. Hearing aids are miraculous pieces of technology, but without a hearing test with an audiologist, even a high-quality hearing aid might not be as beneficial as it could be.
When you have a hearing test assessed by an audiologist, the best hearing aid is prescribed based on your ability to hear different sounds and pitches in all listening situations. When you buy a hearing aid and set it yourself, you won’t know what sounds you cannot hear. Furthermore, you may think your hearing aid is helping you to hear “normally,” but you may be hearing less than you could be.