Hearing loss is one of the most common medical problems - about 37 million people in the US suffer from hearing problems. Can you think of any other disorder that affects 15% of the adult American population but is treated by only 16% of that group?
Read on to learn more about the condition and potential solutions to it.
Types of hearing loss
There are many different forms of hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when something hinders sound transfer to the eardrum. Earwax or an ear blockage is a common cause.
- Sensorineural hearing loss may occur because of a problem with the inner ear, preventing sounds from being picked up and sent to the brain for processing.
- A combination of bilateral and unilateral hearing loss is called mixed hearing loss.
By far, the most common and damaging type of hearing loss is sensorineural. Let's take a look at the main ways it is caused.
Causes of sensorineural hearing loss
There are two primary causes of sensorineural hearing loss – aging and loud exposure to noise.
Hearing loss commonly occurs as people age - this is called presbycusis. The decline occurs due to long-term noise exposure. Additionally, hearing problems can be triggered by inner ear changes and changes in the nerve pathways. Some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, thyroid problems, and diabetes, can worsen the decline.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)
This cause of sensorineural hearing loss occurs when someone repeatedly comes into contact with loud sounds for an extended period.
Examples of noise that can be damaging include mowing the lawn, woodworking, and even drying one's hair. These and other activities can cause long-term damage to the ears. Long-term hearing loss takes a while to reveal itself. Other conditions that contribute to hearing loss include genetics, allergies and certain kinds of medicines.
Signs of hearing loss
The highest frequency sounds are the first to go when it comes to hearing loss. Speech comprehension is compromised because certain consonants (such as ('t', 's,' or 'ch') are not being picked up. Additional symptoms such as tinnitus, noise sensitivity, and dizziness may occur with the hearing loss.
Early symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Asking people to repeat themselves a lot.
- Hearing whistling between your ears.
- Watching TV at a loud volume.
- Finding it hard to hear the doorbell.
- Trouble understanding others in noisy environments.
- Mental and physical fatigue after an average day at work.
Unfortunately, this kind of hearing loss is permanent, and surgical treatment does not exist to counteract it. However, you can manage it quite successfully with hearing aids.
What are the advantages of treating hearing loss?
Hearing loss occurs incrementally. It happens very gradually. There is no cure for hearing disorders of this type, but many find hearing aids to be of great benefit.
Many people have significantly benefited from the right hearing aids, expertly fitted by a hearing professional.
Here are some of the benefits of treatment with hearing aids:
- Better mental wellbeing. People who neglect hearing issues are much more likely to be depressed than their peers. Only twenty-two percent of people who used hearing aids were experiencing anxiety or depression than 30% of those without hearing aids.
- Improved mental abilities. Hearing is as much a responsibility of the brain as the ears. The correct use of hearing aids leads to better brain activity. This could reduce the likelihood of dementia later in life.
- Higher salaries. A recent Better Hearing Institute report showed that households with a working individual with untreated hearing loss lose $12,000 in earnings annually. Therefore, taking action to deal with hearing loss can alleviate these detrimental economic consequences.
- Greater protection. Accidents happen because of the loss of spatial perception from hearing loss. Although no one knows exactly how many falls result from hearing loss each year, recent studies have shown that people with hearing loss fall more frequently.
If you are ready to take charge of your hearing health, contact us today to set up an appointment!