When a person gets older, one of the important senses to be affected is hearing. But, hearing loss can be subtle and gradual, so the change is not easy to notice.
At some point, people start complaining that a person is not listening to them or has the TV or radio on way too loud. That’s when a person realizes they are missing sounds that are important to them and that might signal danger. But, what should they do? The short answer is to get a comprehensive hearing test.
When Hearing Loss Becomes a Problem
When people start telling a person they have a hearing problem, it may be time to get tested. When a person realizes they are missing a lot of what other people are saying or it seems like everyone is mumbling, it is time to act.
When an individual can’t hear anyone unless they are not talking face-to-face, it is time to check things out. Has there been an occasion when not hearing an approaching car or someone yelling a warning has almost meant disaster? Has the time come when a person cannot hear the sounds of nature in the backyard?
When loss of hearing impacts a person’s quality of life, it is time to act. Learn about the availability of nearby hearing testing clinics.
What is Hearing Loss?
Finding out about hearing tests to determine if there is hearing loss, and what type of hearing loss is involved, are the first steps in recovering the ability to hear better. There are different types and causes of hearing loss, and each one requires different solutions. Hearing loss sufferers are not alone. Almost one-half of people in the United States over 65 have hearing loss to some extent.
There are three types of hearing loss:
- Loss involving the middle or outer ear is called conductive hearing loss
- Hearing loss involving the inner ear is called sensorineural hearing loss
- A mixed hearing loss which is a combination of the two
All these types of hearing loss have causes that may affect treatment. Getting older and prior exposure to loud noises often contribute to hearing loss. People who worked in noisy, loud conditions, or those who attended a lot of loud rock concerts may be paying a price as they age. Head or other injuries also cause hearing loss. Ruptured eardrums lead to hearing loss and can be caused by loud noise blasts, sudden air pressure changes, poking an object into the ear, and some infections.
A buildup of earwax can also cause hearing problems by blocking the ear canal so sound waves aren’t conducted properly.
Hearing loss can occur when the inner ear is damaged and the little hairs and nerve cells located inside the cochlea are no longer able to send electrical signals to the brain. This affects the transmission of higher-pitched sounds.
Having an ear infection or abnormal bone growth in the ear can also cause hearing loss. A person may also experience tumors in the middle or outer ear that affect their hearing. Having an illness that includes a high fever can damage the ear’s cochlea and result in loss of hearing.
In addition, some people are genetically disposed to hearing loss as they age. There are also medications that can cause damage to the inner ear and hearing loss.
Treatment For Hearing Loss
The first step in treating hearing loss is being tested by a qualified hearing professional. Once the testing is complete, a plan can be designed to help the person hear better. Hearing professionals are called audiologists, and they can diagnose hearing problems, treat the issues, and help patients manage hearing loss.
The options for hearing loss treatment can include removing the build-up of ear wax, surgery, hearing aids, listening and alerting equipment, cochlear implants, aural rehabilitation for hearing, telephone and other listening products, and over-the-counter hearing aids.