Hearing loss affects an estimated 37.5 million American adults and can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life, as well as their ability to maintain relationships with others. By understanding the common causes of hearing loss, its symptoms, as well as available treatment options, you can become better educated and take measures to protect your own hearing.
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many potential causes of hearing loss, including “natural” causes such as aging and genetics. In fact, advanced age is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, with one in three over 70 years of age suffering from some degree of it.
External factors can also have an impact on hearing loss. For example, exposure to loud noises (especially continuously) can damage the sensitive internal structures of the ear, resulting in a loss of hearing. This can occur gradually over time (as is often the case among musicians and others who work in loud environments) or suddenly, such as upon being exposed to the sound of a loud explosion.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
There are several signs of hearing loss, some of which can include:
- difficulty understanding or holding phone conversations
- trouble hearing over background noise
- constantly asking people to repeat themselves
- a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears, also known as tinnitus
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you see a hearing specialist as soon as possible to diagnose your hearing loss and begin exploring treatment options.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options
The good news is that hearing loss treatment has come a long way in the past couple of decades. Specifically, sound-enhancing technologies such as hearing aids have been found to be extremely effective in helping patients with hearing loss amplify noises around them. Cochlear implants are also sometimes used for those with profound hearing loss.
Of course, a hearing specialist may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as staying away from loud environments or wearing ear plugs on the job, as a means of preventing future hearing loss.
If you believe you may be suffering from hearing loss, make sure you trust your hearing with experienced professionals. Our team can help diagnose the degree of your hearing loss, as well as explore treatment options to help restore your hearing and improve your quality of life.
Contact one of our hearing specialists for a free, no obligation consultation appointment.
NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program, based on December 2015 Census Bureau estimates of the noninstitutionalized U.S. population, personal communication; May 2016. Blackwell, D.L., Lucas, J.W., Clarke T.C. (2014). Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2012. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(260). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_260.pdf (PDF – 3.5 MB) Based on calculations by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff using data collected by (1) the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) annually for number of persons who have ever used a hearing aid [numerator], and (2) periodic NHANES hearing exams for representative samples of the U.S. adult and older adult population [denominator]; these statistics are also used for tracking Healthy People 2010 and 2020 objectives