Hearing Loss 101
How Can You Tell If You Have Hearing Loss?
Do any of these apply to you?
- I have trouble understanding what people are saying.
- I often ask people to repeat themselves.
- I have trouble understanding conversations when there’s background noise, for example, at a restaurant or in a busy workplace.
- I avoid social situations because I have trouble following the conversation.
- I turn up the TV and radio to levels that others tell me is loud.
- I often have ringing in my ears.
- I hear in one ear better than the other.
- I’ve been told that I have a hearing problem.
If you answered yes to more than one of the above, you may have hearing loss. Don’t let communication problems like these keep you from enjoying life to the fullest.
What to Do About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is more common than you might think. It’s estimated that 48 million Americans experience hearing loss, including one in six baby boomers. Noise, diabetes or other factors can cause hearing loss. But most often it’s simply a result of getting older.
Hearing loss typically happens slowly over a period of years. You can gradually get used to asking others to repeat themselves, to straining to hear in restaurants or business meetings, to turning the TV volume up so high that nobody else can stay in the room. But you can do better.
Most hearing loss is mild and treatable. There’s no reason to tough it out or to feel left out when you could be getting more from life.
Why live with hearing loss? You’ll hurt not only yourself but your family and friends. When you can’t participate in conversations, it frustrates you and your loved ones. Some people become so self-conscious or frustrated by their hearing loss that they stop doing what they love, like playing sports or going to the symphony or even to family gatherings.
Types of Hearing Loss
Getting a hearing test is the first step to improving your hearing. A hearing test will identify any hearing loss you may have and the extent.
There are four basic types of hearing loss:
Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary, this type of hearing loss can be fixed with medication, a short procedure and, on rare occasions, with surgery.
This type of hearing loss occurs when tiny hairs in the cochlea are missing or damaged. Getting fitted with hearing aids is the only non-surgical solution.
A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, this type of hearing loss is usually treated with hearing aids alone, and occasionally in conjunction with medication, a short procedure or with surgery.
Caused by strokes and central nervous system diseases, this type of hearing loss usually involves a therapy called auditory rehabilitation.
How can you help yourself and your loved ones live better?
Get a hearing test to determine whether you have hearing loss and the possible extent. After your hearing test, we can determine your best option and help you select hearing loss treatments that will:
- Work best for your level of hearing loss
- Complement your lifestyle
- Fit your budget
It’s time to turn up the volume and enjoy the benefits of better hearing.
Hearing helps keep you sharp. When you can hear better, you can process information faster, kick your brain into gear and feel like yourself again. The sooner you do something about your hearing, the sooner you’ll regain your confidence.
How We Hear
Hearing involves teamwork between your ears and your brain. Hearing begins when sound waves enter your outer ear (the part that’s visible on the outside of your head). The waves travel through your auditory canal, a tube-like passageway lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce earwax to your middle ear.
The middle ear has three small bones, often referred to as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup, and the eardrum. The middle ear has an important job: to amplify sound. If any of the middle ear’s parts get disrupted, significant hearing loss can result.
Hearing: The Inside Story
When waves of sound, such as the chirp of birds in your backyard, travel to your middle ear and hit your eardrum, your eardrum vibrates and, in turn, moves the hammer (the small bone is shaped like a hammer). The hammer moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into your inner ear.
Your inner ear consists of the cochlea (a small, snail-like structure) and the auditory nerve, which carries information between the cochlea and the brain. With the help of tiny hair cells, the auditory nerve converts sound waves into nerve impulses that travel to your brain. Your brain interprets the sound so you “hear” it as birds chirping, a voice or music. All told, hearing is an amazing process that happens in a split second.
Certain drugs, diseases, noise or simply aging can damage hair cells. Once these hair cells are gone, you can’t use Rogaine to make them grow back. But hearing aids can help compensate.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, we’re here to help. We can determine what’s not working as well as it should be. We’ll explain your options and help you choose the best solution for your hearing needs and your lifestyle.