Hearing loss is one of the biggest health concerns in the United States. It is the third most reported physical condition, following arthritis and heart disease. It affects roughly 20% of the American population and can strike people of all ages. The most common causes of hearing loss are noise exposure and aging.
Hearing loss is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Symptoms appear gradually, you may be unaware of your condition for some time. Even when hearing loss is suspected, it takes an average of seven years for a person to seek medical treatment. Knowing the signs is helpful in spurring you to act sooner.
Any of the following might indicate hearing loss:
- Frequently asking people to repeat what they have said.
- Feeling like others mumble when they speak.
- Having difficulty following conversations in which background noise is present.
- Turning up the volume on the television or radio.
- Avoiding social gatherings in noisy places.
Often, a family member or friend will be the first to notice a hearing problem. Early treatment is most effective for hearing loss, so if you think you might have diminished hearing do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. The sooner, the better!
In order to diagnose hearing loss, your doctor will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms, and give you a physical examination followed by a hearing evaluation consisting of a series of audiological tests. Treatment will depend on your type and degree of hearing loss.
TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are problems in the outer ear, ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. The main issue behind conductive hearing loss is that sound cannot enter the inner ear, which causes hearing issues. For the patient, most sounds are extremely muffled. It can be caused by any of the following:
- Ear infection
- Fluid in the ears
- Malformation or abnormalities of the outer or middle ear
- Impacted earwax
- Foreign object in the ear
- Perforated eardrum
- Benign tumors
Depending on the severity, this type of hearing loss can be corrected through surgical intervention, medication, or the application of hearing aids. In any case, conductive hearing loss is treatable but can negatively affect your quality of life if left untreated.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss involves the inner ear and is frequently referred to as “nerve deafness.” This type of hearing loss most often occurs due to damage to the inner ear, which can prevent sounds from being registered through the nerve pathways between your ear and your brain. It may be caused by any of these:
- Noise exposure
- Head trauma
- Aging (presbycusis)
- Viral disease
- Autoimmune ear disease
- Meniere’s disease
- Malformation or abnormality of the inner ear
Unfortunately for patients, sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent condition. It may be treated with medications like corticosteroids or surgical intervention; however, it is more likely that hearing aids will be required.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Treatment for this condition may involve a combination of medication, surgery, and/or hearing aids. Call the Acadian ENT & Facial Plastics – Hearing & Balance Center at (337) 237-0716 for more information or to schedule an appointment today.
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