Hearing Loss Can Happen to Anyone, at Any Age.
But Hearing Aids Can Help.
Have you noticed that you’ve lost some of your hearing? Often, it’s an “invisible” condition because you can’t easily identify when it happened.
Most hearing loss is caused by noise and aging. In age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, changes in your inner ear cause a slow, but steady, hearing loss. The loss is almost always permanent, and there are no known medications or surgical remedies.
The Good News About Hearing Loss
Approximately 95% of people with hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids. Others with profound loss may be treated with cochlear implants.
- Hearing loss is often confused with dementia because some of the symptoms are strikingly similar: emotional withdrawal; bouts of confusion; frustration. However, it’s also important to note that recent studies suggest a possible link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. (Hearing Health Foundation)
- Hearing loss is most often associated with a very common problem of aging, also known as presbycusis. In fact, approximately 50% of Americans will have some hearing loss by the age of 75. It starts with difficulty in detecting weak sounds or not being able to decipher speech in noisy environments like restaurants and stadiums. (Center for Hearing and Communication)
- Famous musicians like Cream’s Eric Clapton as well as The Who’s Pete Townshend and John Entwistle have experienced gradual but severe hearing loss and tinnitus. In fact, Mr. Townshend blames his hearing loss on wearing headphones in the recording studio, though he also was exposed to loud music while performing hundreds of concerts since the 1970s. He helped fund the non-profit hearing advocacy group, H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers) (LiveScience.com; EverydayHearing.com)
About Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Approximately 26 million Americans (15% of the population) between 20 and 69 years of age have high frequency hearing loss, mainly due to exposure to noise at work. (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders [NIDCD] and Hearing Health Foundation)
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur slowly over time or suddenly, depending on the magnitude of the damaging sounds. For example, continued exposure to sounds, such as very loud music or a noisy work environment, can lead to hearing loss.
Sudden, noise-induced hearing loss from gunfire, explosions, or jet engines is the number one disability for war veterans. If you work in construction, the noise from power tools could also contribute to hearing loss.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing
Many healthcare professionals recommend wearing hearing aids to hear many of the high- or low-frequency sounds that you’ve been missing.
If you work in construction, near heavy machinery, in a noisy office, or if you fly frequently, you may choose to wear protective headphones.
The Origins and Treatment of Tinnitus
If you suffer from tinnitus––or the sensation of hearing ringing in your ears––this can often accompany hearing loss and may be just as debilitating as the hearing loss itself.
- Between 45 and 50 million Americans may hear ringing, hissing, buzzing, whistling, swooshing or chirping in their ears at various times. Sometimes, they hear it daily; other times, it’s occasional. But up to 90% of those with tinnitus have some level of hearing loss caused by noise. (American Tinnitus Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control)
- Tinnitus can be caused by loud noises such as explosions, aging, antibiotics and other medications, certain health conditions, and some hearing conditions such as Meniere’s disease.
Other Causes of Hearing Loss
Earwax buildup, an object in your ear, an injury to your ear or head, an ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, and other conditions may also affect your middle or inner ear.
In addition, genetic defects are another common cause of hearing loss at birth and during childhood, with mutations in over 100 genetic loci now being linked to genetic deafness. (Hereditary Hearing Loss)
The best way to assess your hearing condition and diagnose a possible disease is to consult with a hearing health professional such as an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) or an Audiologist. You may also contact your primary physician for a consultation or referral to a hearing health professional.