Hearing Loss Overview
Types of Hearing Loss
The two main types of hearing loss are conductive and sensorineural (or mixed when both occur together), and they are distinguished by the part of the ear that is affected in the process of loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss takes place in the outer or middle ear, and it is less frequent. Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss are obstructions in the ear canal, including earwax, debris, fluid, or foreign bodies, and injuries to the eardrum or ossicles (bones of the middle ear). Many instances of conductive hearing loss can be cured through ear cleaning, medication, ear tube placement, or other types of surgery. These medical and surgical treatments are provided through our sister practice, the Ear Institute of Texas, and our doctors of Audiology can arrange for a rapid medical evaluation when it is deemed necessary.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, occurs when damage affects the hair cells of the inner ear or the auditory nerve that carries information from the ear to the brain. The two most common forms of sensorineural hearing loss are age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss reduces the ability to hear faint sounds. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.
Some possible causes of sensorineural hearing loss:
- Drugs that are toxic to hearing
- Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
- Head Trauma
- Malformation of the inner ear
- Exposure to loud noise
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
The natural aging process and noise exposure are two of the most common causes of hearing loss, but they are not alone. Some people experience an infection or injury that is so serious it causes permanent damage to hearing ability. Others have been exposed to medication, antibiotics, cancer treatments, chemicals, or toxic substances that do damage to the inner ear. Other causes of hearing loss happen so early in life that they are better described as hearing impairment. Congenital hearing impairment occurs before or very soon after birth, and the underlying causes vary greatly. Lack of oxygen during the birthing process can also cause hearing impairment in some people.
Do you have trouble understanding conversations in noisy places? Do you ask people to repeat themselves? Have people told you to get your hearing checked? You may be missing important sounds and not know it.
Hearing Loss Prevention
The best response to the prevalence of hearing loss is to encourage prevention for you and your loved ones. Wearing hearing protection is an important way to keep the hearing ability you currently have for as long as possible. Although it seems intuitive that you would want to wear hearing protection in the form of earplugs or noise-cancelling earmuffs at a very loud industrial or transportation site, risks for hearing loss are part of everyday life, as well.
Something as simple as mowing the lawn can be a risk for hearing loss, particularly if you engage in the process for an extended time. In addition to wearing protective equipment, even if that equipment is a pair of disposable foam earplugs, reducing your exposure to noise is the other component of hearing loss prevention.
Headphones and earbuds are a relatively new technological advancement with potentially devastating effects for hearing ability. Particularly among younger people, playing loud volumes of music and audio through these devices can lead to hearing loss, so they should be used with moderation. Keeping the volume generally at a volume around 75% of the maximum is a good rule of thumb, and you should be careful to monitor the time of use for yourself and your loved ones.
Hearing Loss Treatment
The most common form of hearing loss treatment is to acquire a pair of hearing aids. Other treatment options are available, particularly for those with severe or profound hearing loss, but most people with age-related or noise-induced hearing loss can benefit from the sound amplification provided by hearing aids. Assistive technology is advancing rapidly, with better noise reduction, speech recognition, and customization capability each year. When combined with features such as Bluetooth connectivity, rechargeable batteries, and tinnitus assistance, the latest treatments can merge seamlessly with your active life.
10 Signs of Hearing Loss
You Deserve the Best
Our professionals at the Ear Institute of Texas and Hearing Institute of Texas believe that every person regardless of age, should benefit from the best hearing possible. We believe you are entitled to products, services, and counseling to help you function more effectively in social, educational and occupational environments. And we are dedicated to delivering all three.
It’s a Fact of Life
Many adults have not had a proper hearing screening since grade school (only 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical).
Most people lose their hearing gradually over time. Less than 10% of these hearing losses can be medically or surgically corrected. Yet, it is also a fact with new advancements in digital hearing aid technology, 95% of these losses can be managed effectively with hearing aids. Because nearly one-fifth of all Americans 12 years or older have a hearing loss severe enough that it can make communication difficult, we take your hearing very seriously.
Our thorough and thoughtful screenings can put you on a path to better hearing. Using state-of-the-art equipment, we will assess the cause and severity of your hearing loss.
If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty hearing we invite you to call when you’re ready to get you started on a journey to significantly enhance your quality of life through better hearing.
Why Wait? You do not have to live with hearing loss, call and schedule today!