Some of the Signs
Do you need the volume up on the television louder than normal? Do you always hear the telephone or the door bell ring? Do you know people are talking but fail to understand every word? Do you have problems hearing in noisy environments?
Some of the Common Causes
Wax - We all produce wax in our ears, some of us more than others, and when it blocks the outer ear canal our hearing is then dulled. Put some warmed olive oil (two drops) in each ear, twice daily for about a week to soften the wax. If this fails to improve your actual hearing then you should make an appointment with the nurse who will syringe out any remaining wax. This should not be done if you have a perforation in the ear drum.
Age - as we get older our hearing becomes poorer as the hearing mechanism deteriorates and is sometimes associated with noises in our ears (tinnitus). Nothing can be done to repair the damage but the incoming sounds can be amplified by a hearing aid. Hearing aids are available on the NHS, but waiting lists can be long and the devices themselves are larger and less sophistocated than those available privately. It would be worth a visit to your local hearing aid centre for a free assessment to see whether you would actually benefit from an aid and , if so, you can then decide whether to opt for a private or NHS aid.
Noise Induced Deafness - people who have or do work in noisy environments should take precautions to protect their ears from the long term effects of noise. Wear ear-defenders when you can and where necessary. Consult your local environmental health officer if you are worried.
'Cold' and Catarrh - large amounts of mucus in t he nose tend to block the openings of the eustachian tubes at the back of the nose whick equalise to pressure between the middle-ear and the outside, tending to cause dulled hearing with an echo sensation. This usually responds to decongestant nose drops and mentholated steam inhalations followed by trying to 'pop' your ears.
'Glue ear' - children with frequent colds and ear infections may develop fluid within the middle-ear cavity. This condition often responds with time, but your doctor may refer your child to an ENT clinic to see if a grommet is required. This is a small tube which is fitted into the ear drum under general anaesthetic and allows the middle ear to be aerated.