About Hearing Loss
48 million people have hearing loss in America. Hearing loss is a common problem that can happen to anybody and many different things can lead to it.
“When you lose your vision, you lose contact with things.
When you lose your hearing, you lose contact with people.”
Hearing loss causes
There are many reasons why we lose our hearing, but the most common are prolonged exposure to noise and the aging process. Other causes include ear infections, genetic predisposition, head injuries and certain medications. When the ear does not function properly, the brain does not receive sounds to interpret.
Hearing loss is very often gradual, so we don’t always notice how sounds become fainter over time. We may even start forgetting some of the sounds we were once used to hearing.
Hearing loss has great impact on our family, social and work lives, as it interferes with the way we normally communicate, which is by speaking and listening. Therefore, hearing loss can be isolating. Those with hearing loss may begin to withdraw from social situations.
The good news is that if you have a hearing loss, you can do something about it. Regular use of hearing aids can improve your relationships with others, make you more confident in social situations, and boost your overall life quality. Beltone hearing aids make conversations easy again and help you reconnect to your surroundings and start living life to the fullest again.
Types of hearing loss
One of the effects of hearing loss is a reduced ability to distinguish speech from noise. This is why, if you have hearing loss, you may feel that you hear fine in quiet situations but not in noisy ones. It is also common that high-pitched sounds like birdsong may disappear altogether.
The causes of hearing loss vary and the type of hearing loss is determined by the part of the ear in which the impairment occurs. There are generally four different types of hearing loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss
A conductive hearing loss is often temporary and can sometimes be corrected with wax removal, medication or surgery. Conductive loss stems from problems in the outer or middle ear and can be caused by:
- Build-up of wax or fluid
- Punctured eardrum
- Otosclerosis – an abnormal bone development in the middle ear
Mixed Hearing Loss
With mixed hearing loss, both conductive and sensorineural losses occur at the same time.
In these cases, you may need treatment such as wax removal, medication, or surgery in addition to hearing aids.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. In fact, it accounts for 90% of all adult hearing problems. Although the cause is not always known, it is often related to aging and a history of noise exposure. With sensorineural loss:
- There are problems with the cochlea* and the auditory nerve*
- Sounds not only diminish in volume, but become distorted
- The ability to hear high-pitched sounds is usually affected first.
- The ability to hear low-pitched sounds, such as vowel sounds, may be normal or relatively well-preserved
There are times where a hearing loss is temporary. A temporary hearing loss is common and can be caused by any of the following:
- Excessive earwax
- Ear infections
- Sinus problems
- Certain medications
To find out if you or someone you love has a hearing loss, please contact your local Hearing Care Professional.
Tinnitus and Ringing in the Ears
Tinnitus is the name for the perception of sounds, such as ringing in your ears, buzzing or hissing, when these sounds are not present in the environment. Although the tinnitus sounds can be perceived as quite loud, objective measurements show that they are often fainter than the sound of a leaf falling to the ground.
As you notice the tinnitus sound and start paying attention to it, a strong negative emotional response can be triggered.
A vicious cycle is created where you pay even more attention to the tinnitus, and your brain loses its ability to filter out the irrelevant noise before it reaches your consciousness.
If you have tinnitus, you are not alone. Between 10-15 percent of the population suffer from some degree of tinnitus, with more than half affected in both ears. 1 in 5 people in United States experience tinnitus and nearly 12 million people a year seek medical advice.