Signs that you need a hearing test.
Hearing loss is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Symptoms appear so gradually, you may be completely unaware of your loss for some time.
Knowing the signs is helpful in spurring you to take action sooner. Any of the following might indicate hearing loss:
Hearing Loss FAQ
How is hearing loss diagnosed?
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.
Can noise cause hearing loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type experienced by younger individuals. It can be caused by exposure to a single loud sound, such as a gunshot or explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud noise over a period of time.
When sounds exceed 85 decibels (dB) they are considered hazardous to your hearing health. Continuous exposure to volume levels that high causes permanent damage to the hair cells in your ears. Activities that put people at risk for noise-induced hearing loss include hunting, riding a motorcycle, listening to music at high volumes, playing in a band and attending rock concerts.
An estimated 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by noise exposure. This type of hearing loss can be prevented by wearing earplugs and protective devices.
Will surgery correct my hearing loss?
There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the middle ear and outer ear, while sensorineural hearing loss is the result of inner ear problems. The latter type is sometimes referred to as nerve deafness and is usually treatable only with hearing aids. Conductive hearing loss, on the other hand, can often be corrected surgically.
When Surgery is an Option for Treating Hearing Loss
A number of factors can cause conductive hearing loss. These include malformations of the outer or middle ear structures, chronic ear infections, fluid in the middle ear, a perforated eardrum, benign tumors, impacted earwax, foreign objects in the ear, trauma, and otosclerosis. Many of these conditions can be corrected via surgery.
One of the most common types of surgical procedures is for the treatment of otosclerosis, an abnormal growth of bone on or around the stapes, the “stirrup bone” of the middle ear. This bony buildup prevents the stapes from vibrating as it normally would when stimulated by sound waves, causing hearing loss. The procedure, called a stapedectomy, involves removal of the stapes and replacement with an artificial prosthesis. Surgery is usually completed in 90 minutes or less, and often the patient is able to go home the same day. It may take a month or so for results to appear, as there will be swelling and bruising that can impede hearing initially.
Ossicular reconstruction is similar to a stapedectomy but involves replacing multiple bones of the middle ear (the ossicles) with prosthetic bones.
Implantable hearing devices are another common surgical procedure to assist with hearing. These involve implanting a small device, such as a cochlear implant or bone anchored hearing aid, to allow patients with nerve deafness a communication alternative.
Other common ear surgeries include myringotomy tubes (small tubes inserted into the eardrums to provide ventilation and drainage for children who experience chronic ear infections), tympanoplasty (to repair eardrum perforations), mastoidectomy (to remove portions of the mastoid bone affected by infection, growth or disease) and surgeries to remove acoustic neuroma and other tumors.
Can hearing loss be prevented?
Protecting your ears is the key to hearing loss prevention. If your job exposes you to hazardous noises, make sure proper safety equipment is provided, and that it meets state and federal regulations. Hearing protection – earplugs and earmuffs – is essential when working around loud equipment. It’s always a good idea to bring along earplugs if you’re participating in a noisy recreational activity (e.g., a football game or rock concert), as well.
At home, limit your exposure to noisy activities, and keep the volume down on the television, stereo and especially when it comes to personal listening devices like MP3 players. Prevent other types of hearing loss by refraining from inserting cotton swabs or other objects into your ears, blowing your nose gently through both nostrils and quitting smoking. Studies show those who use tobacco are more likely to suffer from hearing loss.
Regardless of your age, have your hearing tested regularly. Early detection is key. While noise-related hearing loss can’t be reversed, you can still take steps to avoid further damage to your hearing.
Types of Hearing Loss
Your treatment will depend on your type and degree of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are problems in the outer ear, ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. A conductive hearing loss is often correctable with surgery or medications (typically antibiotics). Alternatively, it may be treated with hearing aids.
Sensorineural hearing loss involves a problem with the inner ear, and is frequently referred to as “nerve deafness.” Sensorineural hearing loss can sometimes be treated with medications (corticosteroids) or surgery. More likely, hearing aids will be required.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both types. Treatment might involve a combination of medication, surgery and/or hearing aids.
Schedule your hearing evaluation today.
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