Article published on 21st May 2008
There are thought to be 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, with nearly 700,000 of these being profoundly (or completely) deaf.
Although people can be born deaf, the most common cause of hearing loss happens a long time after we leave the womb and is a result of ageing. ¾ of people registered as being deaf in this country are aged 60 and over, with men being most at risk from the age of 40 years and up.
Hearing loss can be caused by:
- Brain damage,
- Wax blocking the ear canal,
- Presbyacusis, an age-related hearing loss due wear and tear on the cochlea's sensory cells,
- Acoustic neuroma,
- As an unfortunate side-effect to some medications,
- Meniere's disease (a disorder of the inner ear),
- Due to an obstruction by a foreign body of some sort.
Persistent and/or excessive exposure to loud noise is a recognised causal factor in the development of about 50% of the UK's hearing problems, and people who work near tractors, aircraft, loud music, gunfire, explosions, diggers and other heavy machinery are particularly at risk if they do not take the correct precautions. Unfortunately, few people realise the amount of damage they are doing to their hearing until it is too late to correct the problem.
If you think you might be developing a hearing problem be sure to get it checked out. Deafness can affect your ability to communicate and may well affect your ability to continue in your chosen career. If your family has a history of deafness and/or if you work in a very noisy environment, be aware of the risks. Insurance to mitigate against the risks is advisable.
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