How many people have hearing loss?
Nearly 35 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. That means over 11% of Americans have hearing loss and 60% of people with hearing loss are below retirement age.
What are some causes of hearing loss?
There are many causes that can accumulate over our lifetimes. Some of the most common ones include:
Extended exposure to loud noise (military, hunting, music, industrial, power saws, lawn mowers)
- Certain chemotherapy and radiation treatments
- Head trauma
- Certain medical conditions
- Earwax buildup
- Ear infections
- Viral infections
What are the different kinds of hearing loss?
There are three primary types of hearing loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss: Results from a problem with the conduction of sound from the outer ear (the part you can see) to the inner ear (where the nerve is located). This can result from wax buildup, ear infections, trauma to the ear or other problem with the eardrum or bones that conduct sound through the middle ear. Those with this type of loss have a problem with volume rather than understanding ability.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss:Involves some sort of deterioration of the inner ear or the hearing nerve. The aging process, noise-exposure, some cancer treatments, illness, and other degenerative processes could cause this loss. This type of hearing loss sometimes impairs understanding ability.
Mixed Hearing Loss:Occurs when there’s a problem in the inner ear and outer or middle ear. It’s a combination of a conductive and sensoineural hearing loss.
What are some symptoms of hearing loss?
Everyone’s hearing is unique, so everyone experiences hearing loss in different ways. Here are some of the common symptoms:
- You often miss certain words or find yourself confusing words or misunderstanding conversations.
- You frequently ask the speaker to repeat what was said.
- Your family members or friends have expressed concern about your hearing.
- You avoid certain social situations (the theater, restaurants, parties) because it’s difficult to hear.
- You have difficulty understanding telephone conversations.
- You turn up the volume on the radio or television to levels that are too loud for others.
- You have difficulty following conversations in groups or in the presence of background noise.
You have difficulty hearing outdoor sounds such as birds or the wind.
- You have ringing or buzzing in your ear.
- What symptoms indicate the need for a medical evaluation?
If you experience any of these symptoms you should seek the attention of a medical professional as soon as possible:
- Pain or ache in the ear
- Bleeding/draining from your ears
- Head trauma
- Sudden hearing loss
Problems with your balance or dizziness
- Fluctuating hearing loss
- Ringing in ears
- Feeling of fullness or pressure in ears
- Does earwax cause hearing loss?
Earwax, also called “cerumen”, is an oily substance your body creates to protect your ear canal. Many people are concerned they produce too much earwax, but there’s generally no cause for concern. It’s possible for earwax to build up and partially or completely obstruct the ear canal. This can result in a mild to moderate hearing loss. Most of the time, once the wax is removed the hearing is restored. Your Sonus hearing health care professional can let you know if you have a wax buildup and how it can be removed.
What is the ringing sound in my head/ears?
This is called tinnitus. It’s usually an indication of some damage to your auditory system (especially noise damage). It can be constant or periodic and on one specific side or in the middle of your head. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are methods that can minimize its impact. Sometimes hearing aids help by bringing more sound to the brain, thus distracting attention from the ringing. If you have ringing consistently on one side, you should ask your doctor about it.
Why do I only have difficulty hearing in crowds?
You could have a high-frequency hearing loss. This is when you can hear well in one-on-one situations and in small groups, but when you are in larger groups with lots of distracting speech and noise, you hear the noise louder than the speech.
Why do I have difficulty hearing female or children’s voices when I can hear male voices easily?
In general, compared to men’s voices, female and children’s voices tend to be softer and require more volume for those with hearing loss.