have hearing Loss
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
Excessive noise exposure through work, industrial, music and military settings can damage our hearing.
As we age, the nerve cells responsible for sending the proper signals to the brain can become weak.
Chronic ear infections or severe infections left untreated can damage important parts of the hearing system.
Many prescription medications we take for other conditions are listed as being ototoxic, meaning they damage our hearing.
Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a temporary or permanent blockage of sound in the outer or middle ear. This can sometimes be treated medically.
The most common type of hearing loss, sensorineural, is permanent and is typically treated by hearing aids (amplification) and aural rehabilitation.
As the name implies, a mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural components. Further testing is required to rule out certain conditions.
Hearing Loss – More Information
You are sitting in a busy restaurant for a business lunch, and you can barely hear what your colleague is saying from across the table. You might be sitting near the back of an auditorium, having a difficult time making out your favorite author reading from her new novel. In one-on-one conversations, you might ask your friend to repeat himself, and when having a conversation on your cell phone, you might turn the volume up higher. At first, these moments might be incidental, given the environmental factors that could hinder you from hearing clearly. However, if you find these occurrences common in daily life, you might be experiencing hearing loss.
Hearing loss occurs in many different ways, in many different forms. It is an invisible condition that affects 48 million Americans, with a staggering one in three older Americans over the age of 65 living with some form of hearing loss. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), hearing loss is the third most common physical condition affecting Americans, after arthritis and heart disease. Most commonly, hearing loss is attributed to aging or exposure to loud sounds, or a combination of both. There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive (a loss of loudness, generally isolated to the outer and middle ear) and sensorineural (a loss of loudness and clarity, generally affecting the inner ear and nerve paths). Hearing loss differs greatly between individuals, with no single definitive cause.
Regardless of the type, hearing loss may have detrimental long-term health effects if left untreated. In recent studies conducted by Johns Hopkins, researchers found a potential link between untreated hearing loss, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Frank Lin, researcher at Johns Hopkins, conducted a study in which they tracked 639 older Americans with mentally sharp faculties for 12 to 18 years, and found that “the worse the initial hearing, the more likely the person was to develop dementia” and that “compared to people with normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss had triple the risk.”
In addition, hearing loss may lead to depression due to social and emotional isolation. Individuals with untreated hearing loss might find themselves less likely to engage with friends and family due to difficulties with communication, and they might be hesitant to attend social gatherings and public events due to difficulties hearing in louder environments. Interpersonal relationships with spouses and family members may suffer with poor channels of communication, as well as work performance. The HLAA estimates that 60% of people with hearing loss are in the workforce or educational settings.
Though hearing loss is prevalent, it is not untreatable. If you recognize early signs of hearing loss in your own hearing or that of your loved ones, the first step is to schedule an appointment to take a hearing test with an audiologist. This straight-forward process will indicate to the audiologist the specifics of your hearing loss and allow for a personalized treatment to meet your hearing needs. With many hearing aid options available, your audiologist will assist you in selecting one that best fits your lifestyle. Treating hearing loss, as soon as possible, will improve your interpersonal relationships, as well as your relationship to the world around you.