Truth About Hearing Loss
Signs of hearing loss
More than 35 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. You should contact a hearing professional as soon as possible if you’ve experienced any of these signs or symptoms.
- You have difficulty understanding group conversations.
- Others have to loudly repeat what they’ve just said to you.
- Family or friends complain about the volume at which you watch TV or listen to the radio.
- Family members argue with you about your possible hearing loss.
- You avoid social activities because you worry about being able to hear other people.
- Soft speech or whispering is difficult to hear.
- You hear, but don’t always understand, what other people say.
- People seem to mumble or speak too softly to you.
- You find you hear better when you can see a person’s face.
Hearing loss types
Before fitting you with hearing aids – or determining whether you need them at all – hearing professionals must determine the type and severity of your hearing loss.
There are three types of hearing loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss
What it is: Conductive hearing loss occurs in the ear canal or the middle ear, and is similar to an ear infection. Obstruction, such as wax, or other damage in the ear can cause conductive hearing loss.
What you can do: Doctors normally can treat conductive hearing loss without the use of hearing aids.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
What it is: Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It occurs in the nerves, and it is permanent.
What you can do: While there currently is no way to repair sensorineural hearing loss, hearing aids can help. However, early detection is critical, and you should contact a provider as soon as you suspect you may have hearing loss.
Mixed Hearing Loss
What it is: Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
What you can do: Contact a hearing provider to schedule a professional evaluation.
Why early treatment is critical
Hearing loss severity greatly affects the helpfulness of hearing aids. The more hearing loss you have, the less effective hearing aids will be, because they cannot completely restore hearing that is already gone. Hearing is not a fine bottle of wine and does not get better with age. The average person waits 7 to 10 years to seek help for hearing loss. By then, treatment options often are limited. Left untreated, hearing loss can impair your brain’s ability to recognize and process sound, which decreases your mental sharpness and ability to communicate. Your brain is a vital organ that has connections which can deteriorate over time if they go unused. Hearing loss is a cause of this deterioration as sounds that were heard before now go unreceived by the brain.
More and more studies have been done to determine the particular effects hearing loss has on other body systems. Researchers have determined that untreated hearing loss is linked to depression1, dementia2, higher risk of hospitalization3, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke4. The experts believe that when the ears are not working as well as they should the brain has to redirect resources to process sound, which causes other areas of the brain to be shorted.