When treating patients, this is one of the questions most often asked of us. If you are concerned that you are experiencing some hearing loss, you are not alone, because the hearing of over 22 million Americans has become somewhat impaired, and 10 million of them have suffered hearing loss (which is defined as being unable to hear normal conversations).
As to the possible causes of hearing loss, the most common is aging, known technically as age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis. Over time, the nerves and hair cells of the inner ear become damaged and begin to degenerate, making it more difficult to hear high-pitched sounds such as the sounds of women’s or children’s voices, or to be able to distinguish between consonants like S, T, K, P, and F.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most experienced hearing loss, also known as acoustic trauma. This is caused by a series of exposures to loud noise. This can affect young people as well as the elderly, especially if they are frequently around loud music, noisy equipment such as power mowers or motorcycles. These are both examples of what is called sensorineural hearing loss, and although these conditions can rarely be reversed or eliminated, they can easily be treated using hearing aids to amplify and filter the sounds you hear.
A third type, conductive hearing loss, is reversible and is caused by a blockage in the ear canal preventing sound from reaching the eardrum. Earwax is the likely culprit and can be easily treated. Other types of conductive hearing loss may be caused by perforation or scarring of the eardrum, by a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, or by otosclerosis, an abnormal bone formation that causes the inner ear to become less flexible and thus less effective at transmitting and understanding sounds.
Other known causes for hearing loss are infections in the ear canal and middle ear, as well as medications including antibiotics and drugs used in cancer treatment. Certain diseases may also cause hearing loss, such as M√©ni√®re’s disease, acoustic neuroma (noncancerous tumors on the bones of the middle ear), diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
If you suspect your hearing may be reduced we invite you to make an appointment with one of our certified hearing specialists. Our specialist will test your hearing and determine the possible cause and the best course of action to improve your hearing. Don’t suffer with hearing loss that gets worse over time; improve your quality of life by consulting a professional today.