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Sheryl & Carl Arends
Licensed Hearing Instrument
Specialists - Owners
Hearing Loss

Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age (presbycusis) is common.

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated one-third of  the people in the United States, between the ages of 65 and 75, and close to one-half of those older than 75 have some degree of hearing loss.

Doctors believe that heredity and chronic exposure to loud noises are the main factors that contribute to hearing loss over time. 
Other factors, such as ear wax blockage, can prevent your ears from conducting sounds as well as they should.

You can't reverse hearing loss. However, you don't have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or hearing specialist
can take steps to improve what you hear.

Signs and symptom of hearing loss may include:
  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words (especially against background noise or in a crowd of people)
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

Some causes of hearing loss:

  • Damage to the inner ear
  • Buildup of earwax
  • Infections
  • Ruptured eardrum

How Hearing loss can occur:

Damage to the inner ear.  Aging and prolonged exposure to loud noise may cause wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea that send sound signals to the brain.  When these hairs or nerve cells are damaged or missing, electrical signals aren't transmitted as efficiently, and hearing loss occurs.  Higher pitched tones may become muffled to you  It may become difficult for you to pick out words against background noise.  Heredity may make you more prone to these changes.  This type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss, which is permanent.  Also, a gradual buildup of earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves.  As well as ear infections and abnormal bone growths or tumors.  In the outer or middle ear, any of these can cause hearing loss.  Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation).  Loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object and infection can cause your eardrum to rupture and affect your hearing. These are symptoms of a conductive hearing loss, and may be corrected by a medical doctor.

Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:

  • Aging
  • Long term exposures to sounds can damage the cells in the inner ear
  • Heredity
  • Genetic makeup
  • Occupational noises (farming, construction or factory work)
  • Recreational  explosive noises (firearms and fireworks)
  • Recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels (snowmobiling, motorcycling and loud music)
  • Some medications drugs (antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy can damage the inner ear.)

Temporary effects on your hearing - ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss - can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin, other pain relievers, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics and some illnesses.  Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea.

Hearing Loss and how it affects us:

Hearing loss can have a significant effect on your quality of life.  Among older adults with hearing loss, commonly reported problems include:

Depression, anxiety and often a false sense that others are angry with you.  Unfortunately, most people affected by hearing loss live with these difficulties for years before seeking treatment - or never seek treatment at all.  This also may cause lasting problems for those who love you, if you try to cope by denying your hearing loss or withdrawing from social interactions. 

Benefits of treatment:

Treatment can improve your quality of life dramatically.  People who use hearing aids report these benefits:

  • Greater Self-confidence
  • Closer relationships with loved ones
  • Improved outlook on life

Overall, family and friends of individuals who have begun using a hearing aid are even more likely to report these improvements in a shared quality of life.

References: Mayo Clinic

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