Hearing Loss Overview

Did you know that 48 million Americans are diagnosed with significant hearing loss?

Hearing loss can affect people of all ages, but is most prevalent among people over 65 years old. Approximately 25% of people between the ages of 65 to 74 face hearing loss, with over 50% of those over 75 years old. The number people who experience hearing loss in this country is more than those with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and diabetes combined. Hearing loss is more prevalent that you’d expect, and it is the third most common health condition in the U.S., only trailing behind arthritis and heart problems.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are four types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.

  • Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when there is damage or blockage in the outer and/or middle ear. Sound is unable to be conducted adequately through the ear canal to the eardrum. It can be caused by buildup of earwax or fluids in the middle ear from a cold or flu which cause obstruction to sound waves being able to pass through the ear.

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs within the middle or inner ear. There are two common types of sensorineural hearing loss: presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). When there is damage or malfunction to your inner hair cells, issues arise with translating sound vibrations into neural signals that is registered by your brain. When such damage occurs, they do not generate and cause this form of hearing loss.

  • Mixed Hearing Loss occurs when you experience both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss at the same time. The sensorineural aspect of the hearing loss is permanent, while the conductive part may either be permanent or temporary.


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Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss conditions can be caused by a plethora of reasons, ranging from a variety of medical conditions and disorders to obstruction to noise-induced, which all can affect our ability to hear or understand speech. Below is a list of causes of hearing loss:

  • Congenital hearing loss (present at or soon after birth)
  • Lack of oxygen at birth
  • Inherited genetic disorder
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Major ear infections
  • Aging
  • Injury to the inner ear/eardrum
  • Noise-induced hearing loss (exposure to loud noises)

Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can happen to anyone. The good news with hearing loss that it is preventable and there are indicators in helping us identify signs of hearing loss.

Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Did you know that on average, people with hearing loss wait seven years before seeking professional help?

Imagine taking that long to treat health issues like diabetes or heart problems, or even correcting your vision. Audiologists suggest that anyone over the age of 21 should seek out an annual hearing test to allow for a baseline to track our hearing abilities over the years. If you don’t face hearing loss, seeking a hearing test will allow for preventative measures. If you find yourself or a loved one affected by hearing loss, the list below underscores the benefits of treating hearing loss.
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Better Communication

The most obvious is that those with hearing loss will once again gain the ability to communicate challenge free with the assistance of hearing aids. It will enable you to connect with your family, friends, and co-workers on a deeper, more meaningful level.
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Better Cognitive Health

Research shows that hearing loss is linked to cognitive health disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. When it comes to hearing health and the brain the sooner you treat it, the better.
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Improved Safety and Mobility

Hearing loss has an impact on our safety not only with falls, but also driving. The sooner you get treated for your hearing loss, you’ll be not only safer but also more mobile. Studies have shown that those who treat their hearing loss venture further from their homes more frequently.