About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss Symptoms
Hearing loss can be so gradual that you do not notice the changes until there is significant impairment. There are many different symptoms of a hearing loss, including;
- Thinking that everyone mumbles - A muffling of speech or sounds with difficulty in hearing things clearly
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy situations - misunderstanding words or conversations when there is other noise present
- Asking people to repeat themselves - frequently asking others to repeat themselves or to talk more slowly with more volume
- Increasing the volume of the television - feeling the need to turn up the volume of the television or radio to hear better, especially when it's louder than what others around need
- Social avoidance - avoiding specific social situations because of your difficulty to hear and engage in conversation
Hearing Loss Types
There are four major types of hearing loss and the type of loss you have will determine the treatment or possible referral options.
- Sensorineural (most common) - This is caused when tiny hairs in the cochlear are missing or damaged - most often due to genetics, age or noise exposure - is sometimes referred to as "nerve damage"
- Conductive - hearing loss due to problems with the ear canal or middle ear space - can include anything from wax buildup to fluid in the middle ear to a ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane).
- Mixed - this is when someone has a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
There are some common causes of hearing loss. The most common causes are:
- Aging (Presbycusis) - Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss and almost half of those over the age of 75. Because this type of loss occurs gradually, you may not realize that your hearing is not what it should be without having it evaluated.
- Noise Exposure - Over time, exposure to loud noises over 80 decibels can have a significant impact on our hearing. Approximately 15% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud noise. This type of hearing loss is preventable.
- Ototoxic Medications - There are over 200 different kinds of medicines known to negatively affect the hearing system, including both over-the-counter and prescription medications. Medications can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss. It is important to discuss the risks with your physician before taking any medication.
- Genetics (Heredity) - If your relatives suffer from hearing loss, it can increase your chances as well. Genetically inherited hearing loss is the most common cause of permanent hearing loss and is easily treatable with amplification.