Symptoms of Hearing Loss
- Asking for repeats of using “what and “huh” more often
- Accusing others of mumbling
- Having difficulty hearing speech from a distance
- Having difficulty hearing in background noise or group situations
- Preferring the radio or television louder than what is necessary for others
- Having difficulty hearing women’s and children’s voices
- Speaking louder than what is needed
- Being told by others that they suspect you of having a hearing loss
- Avoiding groups or social situations
Types of Hearing Loss
When sound is stopped for whatever reason the brain can no longer process the information accurately. Sound can be muffled, softer, even distorted. Hearing loss can be temporary, medically treated, or progressive. Understanding the nature of the loss will better prepare you for your options.
- Conducive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is caused by problems in the ear canal and/or the structures in the middle ear. It occurs when sounds from the outside world cannot be transmitted normally through the ear canal and/or middle ear to the inner ear.
The most common causes of conductive hearing loss can be a buildup of wax in the ear canal, perforated eardrums, fluid in the middle ear (common in children), or damaged or effective ossicles (middle ear bones).
A person with conductive hearing loss may notice their ears seem to be full or plugged. Most conductive hearing losses can be medically or surgically treated. If, for some reason, the hearing loss cannot be corrected, hearing instruments can provide benefit.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. More than 90 percent of all hearing instrument wearers have sensorineural hearing loss.
It results from a combination of problems in the inner ear and the auditory nerve. They then become unable to convert sound vibrations into the electrical signals needed by the auditory nerve.
The nerve pathways in the auditory nerve itself can also become damaged, preventing the signals from reaching the brain. Although this damage can be caused by exposure to loud noise – through working in a noisy environment for too long – the primary reason is aging.
People with sensorineural hearing loss typically report they can hear people speak, but can’t understand what they’re saying. Hearing instruments and assistive devices can help.
- Mixed Hearing Loss
This kind of hearing loss is caused by a combination of problems in the middle and the inner ear or the auditory nerve. For example, the person may have a noise induced hearing loss from noise exposure and a perforation in the eardrum. The combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing therefore the loss is mixed.
Causes of Hearing Loss
If you have a hearing loss, you may wonder what caused it. It is often not possible to determine a cause with high certainty. Your history and the results of your hearing evaluation will help provide information.
- Age-Induced Hearing Loss
The most common type of hearing loss is called presbycusis, or age induced hearing loss. This is caused by a gradual deterioration of hair cells, which is part of the normal aging process. The degree to which hair cell loss occurs varies from one individual to another.
Some people experience a significant loss of sensory cells at the age of 50, while others only have a negligible loss even at the age of 80. Hearing problems associated with presbycusis can be significantly reduced with the right hearing device.
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Another, less common type of hearing loss is noise induced, arising from an acoustic trauma or from exposure to excessive noise for extended periods of time. This causes damage to both the inner and outer hair cells of the cochlea. People with noise-induced hearing loss typically have difficulty hearing high frequency sounds, but hear quite well in the low frequencies. Hearing devices are ideal solutions for noise induced hearing loss.
Awareness is the First Step
Because people with hearing loss often do fairly well in quiet, face-to-face situations, signs of hearing loss often may not be obvious to the doctor. Only a small percentage of doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. It’s up to you to be alert to the signs and to tell your doctor if you suspect that your hearing maybe changing.
Consequences of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss often has complex consequences. Many facets of everyday life become increasingly more difficult. Conversations with loved ones, meetings, phone calls and watching TV can be particularly challenging. In many cases, people with hearing loss will withdraw and become socially isolated. Their quality of life diminishes noticeably.
- Social Consequences
Studies have shown that people with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids experience more sadness, fear and anxiety than hearing aid users. They reduce their social activities, become emotionally unstable and have trouble concentrating.
On the other hand, studies also show that hearing aid users experience a dramatically increased quality of life as soon as they start using a hearing aid. They maintain better family relationships, have more self-confidence and experience more independence and security.
- Physical Consequences
If hearing loss is not corrected, it can result in physical issues such as tiredness or fatigue, headaches, vertigo and stress.
The described symptoms are not always caused by untreated hearing loss, but they are observed in many cases. If you experience hearing loss and recognize some of the symptoms described above, you should contact our office at 813-962-1888 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.