About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss affects nearly 28 million Americans. It can begin gradually -- with a buzzing in the ears or the sense that others are mumbling -- or it may come suddenly after an illness or accident. It can range from being very mild, when only faint, high-pitched sounds or voices are not heard, to so severe that even explosive noises may go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, most Americans wait 5 to 7 years before solving their hearing problems. Early detection will lead to an easier acceptance of the hearing loss and to eventual use of hearing aids to compensate.
What are the warning signs of hearing loss?
- Hearing, but not understanding
- Difficulty understanding conversation within a group of people
- Difficulty understanding TV and telephone conversations
- Turning up the TV or radio
- Difficulty conversing in a noisy room
- Complaining that people are mumbling
- Continually asking people to repeat words or phrases
- Difficulty hearing at the movies, houses of worship, court halls, or at other public gatherings
- Avoiding group meetings, social occasions, public facilities, or family gatherings where listening may be difficult
- Ringing in the ears or dizziness
What do I do if I suspect a hearing loss?
Have your hearing tested by an Audiologist, a university-trained specialist in disorders of hearing and balance. The results of the hearing evaluation(s) will be reviewed with you and the various options for treatment will be discussed.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive Hearing Loss - affects the outer and/or middle ear. Ear wax and ear infections are examples of conditions that may cause a conductive hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can often be medically or surgically treated.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss - is caused by damage to the inner ear. Such damage is the result of aging, illness or noise. People with this hearing loss cannot regain their hearing, although they can enhance it through hearing aids.
- Mixed Hearing Loss - a combination of conductive and sensorineural. For people with profound hearing loss, a cochlear implant (a surgically implanted device) may be a viable option. For people with a conductive hearing loss or single sided deafness, a BAHA (a surgically implanted device) may be a viable option.
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