Hearing loss is a common issue . . .
Over 31 million people in the United States alone have reported difficulty hearing. This figure will only increase as the population ages. If you don’t hear as well as you used to, you’re among many others. The extent of your hearing loss’ effects goes far beyond just your ears. Research indicates that hearing loss can impair you psychologically and emotionally, and can reduce your ability to succeed at work.
Causes of Hearing Loss
It’s common for people to associate hearing loss with the elderly, but research indicates that hearing loss mostly occurs in the population under 65 years of age. Though hearing loss can come with age, anyone can suffer from hearing loss for a variety of reasons. Exposure to noise is a common and well-known cause of hearing loss (often caused by occupational hazards such as heavy machinery or loud music), but genetics, medication, disease, and head trauma are all capable of causing hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss comes in a variety of forms, and the nature of the damage determines the appropriate sort of treatment. Hearing aids, while a common tool in treating hearing loss, are not capable of addressing every type of hearing loss. Audiologists typically divide hearing loss into four categories. Central hearing loss results from central nerve damage or disease including stroke and other conditions. No matter how well the ears function, if the brain and nerves are impaired, your ability to use your ears is diminished. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the cochlea, where the tiny hairs that convert sound vibrations into nerve signals reside. If these hairs are injured or missing, your nerves will not receive an accurate representation of the sound entering the ear. Conductive hearing loss refers to impaired mechanical function in the ear itself; even excess earwax buildup counts as a form of conductive hearing loss. If the ear’s mechanisms do not function properly, they cannot transmit the sounds they receive accurately. A combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss is called mixed hearing loss. Your audiologist will be able to help you determine what manner of hearing loss affects you and what the best course of action is to treat it.