Do You Have Hearing Loss?
How Can You Tell If You Have Hearing Loss?
Do any of these apply to you?
- I have trouble understanding what people are saying.
- I often ask people to repeat themselves.
- I have trouble understanding conversations when there’s background noise, for example, at a restaurant or in a busy workplace.
- I avoid social situations because I have trouble following the conversation.
- I turn up the TV and radio to levels that others tell me is loud.
- I often have ringing in my ears.
- I hear in one ear better than the other.
- I’ve been told that I have a hearing problem.
If you answered yes to more than one of the above, you may have hearing loss. Don’t let communication problems like these keep you from enjoying life to the fullest. Call us now to schedule a hearing evaluation.
What to Do About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is more common than you might think. It’s estimated that 48 million Americans experience hearing loss, including one in six baby boomers. Noise, diabetes or other factors can cause hearing loss. But most often it’s simply a result of getting older.
Hearing loss typically happens slowly over a period of years. You can gradually get used to asking others to repeat themselves, to straining to hear in restaurants or business meetings, to turning the TV volume up so high that nobody else can stay in the room. But you can do better.
Most hearing loss is mild and treatable. There’s no reason to tough it out or to feel left out when you could be getting more from life.
Why live with hearing loss? You’ll hurt not only yourself but your family and friends. When you can’t participate in conversations, it frustrates you and your loved ones. Some people become so self-conscious or frustrated by their hearing loss that they stop doing what they love, like playing sports or going to the symphony or even to family gatherings.
Types of Hearing Loss
Getting a hearing test is the first step to improving your hearing. A hearing test will identify any hearing loss you may have and the extent. There are four basic types of hearing loss:
- Conductive: usually temporary, this type of hearing loss can be fixed with medication, a short procedure and, on rare occasions, with surgery.
- Sensorineural: This type of hearing occurs when tiny hairs in the cochlea are missing or damaged. Getting fitted with hearing aids is the only non-surgical solution.
- Mixed: A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, this type of hearing loss is usually treated with hearing aids alone, and occasionally in conjunction with medication, a short procedure or with surgery.
- Central: Caused by strokes and central nervous system diseases, this type of hearing loss usually involves a therapy called auditory rehabilitation.
How We Hear
Hearing involves teamwork between your ears and your brain. Hearing begins when sound waves enter your outer ear (the part that’s visible on the outside of your head). The waves travel through your auditory canal, a tube-like passageway lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce earwax to your middle ear.
The middle ear has three small bones, often referred to as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup, and the eardrum. The middle ear has an important job: to amplify sound. If any of the middle ear’s parts get disrupted, significant hearing loss can result.
Hearing: The Inside Story
When waves of sound, such as the chirp of birds in your backyard, travel to your middle ear and hit your eardrum, your eardrum vibrates and, in turn, moves the hammer (the small bone is shaped like a hammer). The hammer moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into your inner ear.
Your inner ear consists of the cochlea (a small, snail-like structure) and the auditory nerve, which carries information between the cochlea and the brain. With the help of tiny hair cells, the auditory nerve converts sound waves into nerve impulses that travel to your brain. Your brain interprets the sound so you “hear” it as birds chirping, a voice or music. All told, hearing is an amazing process that happens in a split second.
Certain drugs, diseases, noise or simply aging can damage hair cells. Once these hair cells are gone, you can’t use Rogaine to make them grow back. But hearing aids can help compensate.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, we’re here to help. We can determine what’s not working as well as it should be. We’ll explain your options and help you choose the best solution for your hearing needs and your lifestyle.
Healthy Hearing, A Whole Body Approach
Ears are always attached to a body and bodies are dynamic, interconnected systems. Ears are influenced by the things we eat and drink, medications we take, and our health habits such as exercise and sleep. If there is a problem with the heart affecting circulation, the ears can suffer, too. In fact, many health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease have an effect on the ears. Check out the infographic from the Better Hearing Institute below to learn more.
Who should have a hearing test?
Everyone over the age of 50 should have a baseline hearing test done. At this test our audiologists will assess risk factors and determine a proper re-test schedule. For example, people with no risk factors (family history, noise exposure, or a health condition that could affect the ears) may not need to be tested for 3 years unless a perceived problem arises. On the other hand, if a person has diabetes or kidney disease or has a noisy hobby, an annual hearing test may be warranted.
At the Hearing Wellness Center, our audiologists ask lots of questions about your lifestyle to help create a Customized HearWell program that includes recommendations around diet and exercise. Check out our Nutrition Page to learn more.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss.