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Hearing loss is one of the most common health issues that people live with today. Impacting nearly 1 in 5 people, you or someone you know may be experiencing hearing loss symptoms. We’ve asked and answered some of the most frequently asked questions about hearing loss which can help you learn more about impaired hearing.
1. How common is hearing loss?
Over 48 million people have some degree of hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):
- 1 in 3 adults, ages 65-74, have some degree of hearing loss.
- 1 in 2 adults, ages 75 and older, have disabling hearing loss.
Hearing loss is more than twice more common than diabetes and cancer. This data
highlights how pervasive hearing loss is.
2. What are the types of hearing loss?
There are three types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed. Conductive hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle portion of the ear and is often temporary. This type of hearing loss usually results from physical obstructions that prevent soundwaves from being fully absorbed. This includes accumulated earwax, a perforated eardrum, bone growths etc. This obstruction can typically be addressed and resolved, restoring hearing.
This differs from sensorineural hearing loss which occurs in the inner ear and is permanent. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form, accounting for 90% of the hearing loss that people experience. This type of hearing loss occurs when sensory cells in the inner ear are damaged. The last type of hearing loss is a mix of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
3. What causes hearing loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by several factors. The most common causes
- Aging: the risk of developing age related hearing loss increases with age. Also known as presbycusis, this can be caused by a few factors: changes to the ear that may happen over time, the cumulative impact of loud noise exposure, or medical conditions that are linked to hearing loss and also disproportionately impact hearing health.
- Loud noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can irreparably damage the sensory cells in the inner ear. Loud noise can desensitize and weaken these cells, preventing them from effectively processing soundwaves. This results in the brain receiving less auditory information which causes hearing loss.
- Existing medical conditions: studies show that a number of health conditions can increase the risk of hearing loss. This includes diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and hypertension.
Other causes of hearing loss include inner ear disorders, head injuries, autoimmune
conditions, and chronic ear infections.
4. What are early signs?
There are numerous symptoms that indicate hearing loss. A common early sign is difficulty keeping up with conversations, especially in places with background noise – restaurants, parties, and other active environments. Sounds may be muffled or distorted, you may lip read to help identify individual words, ask others to repeat themselves, increase the volume on your TV, feel confused during conversations etc.
5. How is hearing loss diagnosed?
There are a few types of hearing tests that are used to diagnose hearing loss. The most
A common hearing test is known as pure tone audiometry testing. This involves wearing
headphones while sounds at different pitches are played. You are asked to indicate what
you can hear by pressing a button or raising your hand. This identifies the softest sounds
you are able to hear. Hearing tests establish any hearing loss you are experiencing and
the degree of impairment in each ear.
6. What is the most common treatment option?
Hearing aids are the most common way hearing loss is treated. These are electronic
devices that are designed to process sound. Today’s hearing aids are more innovative
than ever before – offering a range of styles, features, and technologies that deliver
sharp sound quality.
7. How do I know which hearing aid is best for me?
Your hearing healthcare provider will help you navigate your options. They’ll recommend specific devices that can best meet your hearing and lifestyle needs. A few factors are used to decide this including: your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle factors like your work and social life, and your interest in the different features you can invest in.
Contact us today to learn more about hearing loss and treatment. We can also schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation which is the first step towards transforming your hearing health adn wellness.