Approximately one out of five Americans suffers from hearing loss, making it one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. Traditionally associated with an aging population, in reality hearing loss affects both young and old.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
You might think that hearing loss would be easily recognized, but in truth symptoms develop so gradually many only become aware of their condition when others complain.
Recognizing the signs of hearing loss is important, since early detection improves the odds of successful treatment.
- The belief that other people mumble when they speak, or their speech is unclear
- Asking others to repeat themselves often
- Struggling to understand speech when there is background noise
- Watching TV or listening to the radio at a volume others find uncomfortable
- Limiting your social gatherings for fear of not being able to follow along with conversations
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. A hearing evaluation can determine whether you are experiencing hearing loss, and to what degree.
Treatments for Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is categorized as conductive when it affects the outer ear, ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. This type of hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors including ear infection, impacted earwax, fluid in the ears, structural abnormalities, perforated eardrum, foreign objects, otosclerosis and benign tumors. Conductive hearing loss often responds to treatment with surgery or medication.
Hearing loss is sensorineural when it affects the inner ear and hearing nerve. It can result from noise exposure, aging, trauma, viral diseases, structural abnormalities, autoimmune ear disorders, Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis and tumors. Medications and surgery can help in a few cases, but most of the time hearing aids are required for treatment.
Some people experience mixed hearing loss, a combination of the other two types.