What Causes Hearing Loss
- Have you ever overslept because you can’t hear your alarm clock?
- Do you find yourself tuning out the conversation over lunch because you can’t hear everything?
- Are you avoiding the theater because you can’t make out the dialog?
Hearing loss often means feeling left out. Left out of the conversation and out of some of your favorite activities. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can re-engage with the things you love. The first step in recovering your hearing is to uncover what’s causing it.
48 million Americans of all ages experience hearing loss, including one in six baby boomers.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three main types of hearing loss, and depending on what type you’re experiencing the treatment will be different.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Some hearing loss is caused by damage to the tiny hairs in the cochlea. Whether caused by aging, disease or exposure to loud noises this type of hearing loss is often permanent and requires treatment with hearing aids or other hearing technology.
Conductive Hearing Loss
A common cause of hearing loss is when sounds are blocked from traveling through the ear canal correctly. This can happen when foreign objects or earwax is blocking the canal or if fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Other common causes are ear infections, a tear in the eardrum, or cysts. While some conductive hearing loss is caused by disease or permanent damage, many types of conductive hearing loss are temporary.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
How You Hear
How do your ear and brain work together to help you hear? Hearing begins when sound waves enter your outer ear (you know, the visible portion of the ear located on the outside of the head) and are channeled down your auditory canal, a tube-like passageway lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce earwax.
At the end of your auditory canal lies the middle ear, which is composed of the eardrum and three small bones, often referred to as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. Which sounds like things you might find at the town forge but stick with us here.
When sound waves hit your eardrum, it vibrates and, in turn, moves the bone shaped like a hammer. The hammer then moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into your inner ear. The middle ear functions to amplify sound, which is why significant hearing loss can result from any disruption in any of its parts.
Hair cells can be damaged by use of ototoxic drugs, disease and simply aging. And once these hair cells are gone, you can’t use Rogaine to make them come back. Hearing aids can be used to compensate.
All the parts described above create a system which enables you to hear clearly. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, we can determine what’s not working as well as it should be. Then we’ll explain your options to you and help you choose the best solution for your hearing needs and your lifestyle.
Will My Hearing Come Back?
Sudden hearing loss is often a side effect of living life full throttle. Attending loud concerts, nail-biting football games, or simply pumping it up at spin class can cause hearing loss if the noise gets above 85 decibels. To put that into perspective, driving 50 MPH with your windows down yields an average of 89 decibels, so it doesn’t take much to endanger your hearing.
Research shows that getting treatment immediately after being exposed to a loud noise can dramatically improve the odds of preventing permanent damage. This is because your ears respond to loud noises by sending more white blood cells to your ears. Inflammation, over time, will damage the tiny hairs that detect sound. Seeing an audiologist immediately after being exposed to loud noises is crucial.
Unfortunately, the average person waits 7 years to investigate their hearing loss. Whether they’re in denial or just don’t want to deal with it, waiting to address hearing loss can be devastating.
The Effects of Hearing Loss
Some people become so self-conscious or frustrated about their hearing loss that they stop doing the things they love, like playing sports or going to the symphony or even to family gatherings.
You can just live with hearing loss, put up with it and be stoic about it, but by doing that, you are hurting not only yourself but your family and friends. When you can’t participate in a conversation, it frustrates you and your loved ones.
How can you help yourself and your loved ones live better?
Get a hearing evaluation to determine whether you have hearing loss and how extensive it may be. When you do, we can determine what your best option is and help you select a hearing aid that will:
- Work best for your level of hearing loss
- Complement your lifestyle
- Fit within your budget
Life is short. It’s time to turn up the volume and enjoy all the benefits of better hearing.
The more you hear, the more you stimulate and exercise your brain. The sooner you do something about your hearing, the sooner you’ll regain your confidence.