What is Hearing Loss?
Many of us know someone with a hearing loss, or perhaps you have a hearing impairment yourself. Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition, only surpassed by arthritis and heart disease. Though estimates on hearing loss vary, the Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that 48 million Americans are currently faced with a hearing loss. By age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss, and sixty percent of people with a hearing loss are still in the workplace or an educational setting. Given the prevalence of hearing loss, it is helpful to understand the signs, types and causes of hearing loss before seeking an appropriate solution.
Common Signs of Hearing Loss
Did you know it takes people seven years on average to seek treatment from the time they first think they may have a hearing loss? By paying attention to early signs, you may be able to get evaluated and find a successful treatment plan much earlier.
Some of the most common complaints by those with a hearing loss are difficulty hearing in groups or on the telephone, thinking others mumble, and the inability to converse with the presence of background noise. If you or your loved one often asks people to repeat what they say or turn the volume up to an uncomfortably loud level, it may indicate a hearing loss. Since hearing loss is an invisible condition, we can only see its effects. Hearing loss may contribute to aloofness, confusion, or personality changes as well.
Types of Hearing Impairments
A congenital hearing loss means you are born without hearing, while a gradual hearing loss happens over time. There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. A conductive hearing loss is due to problems in the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear and its bones. Sensorineural loss is due to problems of the inner ear, and is often referred to as a nerve-related hearing loss. A mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural losses. Tinnitus, a ringing-in-the-ears sensation, often accompanies a hearing loss and is frequently noted as being just as debilitating as the loss itself.
Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many causes for hearing impairments. The most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging. Age-related hearing loss, presbycusis, is caused by changes in the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is always permanent. Noise-induced hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the frequency and severity of exposure. Additional causes of hearing loss may be attributed to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, or cancer treatments. Earwax buildup, ear infections, head and ear injuries, or a ruptured eardrum may also contribute to a hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options
Treatment options for a hearing loss can range from a bone conduction hearing aid, to a surgically implanted osseointegrated device, to a conventional hearing aid. Hearing aids are available with an ever-increasing amount of power and technology. They are able to improve a wide range of hearing losses, with many styles and a fit for every lifestyle. Our specialists at Kenwood Hearing Centers are experts at helping patients to hear better. Our team is here to provide guidance and partner with you to find the best treatment option available to you. We even offer a completely risk-free hearing aid test drive at each of our Northbay locations. To schedule a free consultation, please give us a call at the location nearest you.
Kenwood Hearing Centers
Santa Rosa East: 707-538-1000
Santa Rosa West: 707-544-4433