Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can affect anybody and at any age. However, most people either ignore the signs or wait too long to get proper diagnosis and treatment for their hearing loss. The average delay between the onset of hearing loss and treatment is almost 7 years. Here are some statistics about hearing loss and treatment from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 37.5 million people report hearing troubles in the US.
- 25 percent of adults in the age group of 65 to 74 (and 50 percent of those above 75) suffer from disabling hearing loss.
- Of those adults who could benefit from the use of hearing aids, only 16 percent make use of them.
Hearing loss is more common than you might think, so it’s important to understand how it might affect you and your treatment options.
What are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
The symptoms of hearing loss are unique to each person, and it depends on factors like the cause of your hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and its severity. Many people with hearing loss experience the following symptoms:
- Difficulty understanding conversations
- Listening to media at a disruptive volume
- Asking people to continuously repeat themselves
- Extreme difficulty in communicating in noisy situations like a family gathering, group meeting, or at restaurants.
- Grey noise or tinnitus in the ears
- Avoiding social situations
Recognizing these symptoms in yourself or your loved ones can be the first step in treatment, so honesty is important.
Different Kinds of Hearing Loss
There are essentially three kinds of hearing loss– sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss– This is permanent hearing loss that is caused either by damage to the auditory nerve or the tiny hair like cells in your inner ear. Most adults suffer from this kind of hearing loss. It usually results in difficulty understanding speech or sounds even when they are loud enough to hear.
- Conductive Hearing Loss– This is usually temporary and can be medically treated, even though it can be permanent too. It is caused by mechanical problems in the middle or outer ear, or because of an obstruction in your ear canal that is blocking the sound.
- Mixed Hearing Loss– This occurs when you experience symptoms of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
It’s important to figure out the cause of your hearing loss, because this determines the best treatment for it. There are several reasons for hearing loss, and some of these only cause a certain kind of hearing loss. For instance, if you have earwax blockage in your ear canal, it causes conductive hearing loss which is temporary; while prolonged exposure to loud noises can lead to sensorineural hearing loss which is permanent. Some of the reasons for hearing loss include:
- Advanced age known as presbycusis
- Some medicines like ‘ototoxic’ drugs
- An injury or trauma to your head
- Prolonged exposure to very loud noises
- Certain autoimmune diseases, mumps, otosclerosis, and Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma or a tumor on the acoustic nerve
- Any other episode of acoustic trauma
Schedule a Consultation
Understanding what hearing loss is and how it affects you and your loved ones is a first step in treatment. An additional step is scheduling a screening with your audiologist to determine your treatment options and how you can prevent further loss. We invite you to schedule a consultation with our ENT specialists at our Tuscaloosa office by calling or filling out our online form.