Audiology

Hearing Loss


You may have hearing loss, and not even be aware of it. People of all ages experience gradual hearing loss, often due to the natural aging process or long exposure to loud noise. Other causes of hearing loss include viruses or bacteria, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medications. Treatment for hearing loss will depend on your diagnosis.

Hearing loss is common, especially as you age. It is estimated that one-third of people in the U.S. between the ages of 65 and 75 experience some degree of hearing loss; for those older than 75, the number jumps to half. While there’s no cure for age-related hearing loss, there are solutions to improve your ability to hear, and steps you can take while younger to reduce your risks of developing hearing loss.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Simply put, hearing loss involves a decreased sensitivity to sound. A person experiencing loss of hearing will have trouble understanding people when they speak, and will frequently ask them to repeat themselves. Speech will sound muffled, the volume will seem too low, background noises will become distracting, and there may be a ringing or roaring sound in the ears, known as tinnitus.

There are different levels of hearing loss, based on degree and ranging from mild (you have no trouble holding a conversation but may miss an occasional word) to profound (you need a hearing aid in order to understand what people are saying).

Causes of Hearing Loss

Aging is not the only cause of hearing loss. The condition is becoming increasingly common in younger people, especially those who often listen to loud music. Any prolonged exposure to loud noise can lead to damaged nerve cells in the cochlea. This is called sensorineural hearing loss, and is the most common type of permanent loss.

Earwax and other fluids can build up in the ear canal, preventing sounds from reaching the inner ear at normal levels. This is known as conductive hearing loss, and is usually treatable with medications or surgery.

Ear infections, abnormal growths, and ruptured eardrums can all cause hearing loss, usually temporary. Sudden hearing loss in one or both ears that is severe is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment by an ENT Specialist.

Treatment Options

Treatment for hearing loss depends on the cause and degree of your impairment. Earwax can be removed comfortably with a microscope in your Comprehensive ENT Specialist’s office. Ear infections are treated with antibiotics or antifungal medications. Surgery may be an option for abnormal growths and or problem with the middle ear bones or EAR DRUM.

Hearing aids come in many shapes, sizes, and styles, from conventional units worn behind the ear to extended-wear invisible instruments placed deeply within the ear canal.

If you have symptoms of hearing loss, please call our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified ENT Specialists.

Test Your Hearing

To get an idea of how well you hear, answer the following quesions and then calcualte your score. To calculate your score, give yourself

  • 3 points for every "almost always" answer
  • 2 points for every "half the time" answer
  • 1 point for every "occasionally" answer
  • 0 for every "never" answer
  • Please note: If hearing loss runs in your family, add an additional 3 points to your overall score.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery recommends the following:

  • 0-5 points­  Your hearing is fine. No action is required.
  • 6-9 points  Suggest you see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.
  • 10+ points Strongly recommend you see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.

I have a problem hearing over the telephone.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

People complain that I turn the TV volume too high.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I have to strain to understand conversations.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I miss hearing some common sounds like the phone or doorbell ring.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I have trouble hearing conversations in a noisy background, such as a party.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I get confused about where sounds come from.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I misunderstand some words in a sentence and need to ask people to repeat themselves.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I especially have trouble understanding the speech of women and children.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I have worked in noisy environments (such as assembly lines, contstruction sites, or near jet engines).

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

Many people I talk to seem to mumble, or don't speak clearly.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

People get annoyed because I misunderstand what they say.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I misunderstand what others are saying and make inappropriate responses.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

I avoid social activities because I cannot hear well and fear I'll make improper replies.

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

Ask a family member or friend to answer this question: Do you think this person has a hearing loss?

  • Almost always
  • Half the time
  • Occasionally
  • Never

What else can I do to help with my hearing loss?

  • Eliminate or lower unnecessary noises around you.
  • Let friends and family know about your hearing loss and ask them to speak slowly and more clearly.
  • Ask people to face you when they are speaking to you, so you can watch their faces and see their expressions.
  • Utilize sound amplifying devices on phones.
  • Use personal listening systems to reduce background noise.

TIPS TO MAINTAIN HEARING HEALTH

  • If you work in noisy places or commute to work in noisy traffic or construction, choose quiet leisure activities instead of noisy ones.
  • Develop the habit of wearing earplugs when you know you will be exposed to noise for a long time.
  • Earplugs can reduce the volume of sound reaching the ear to a safer level.
  • Try not to use several noisy machines at the
  • same time.
  • Try to keep television sets, stereos and headsets low in volume.

Get a hearing consultation

If you are coping with hearing loss or are considering hearing aids, we encourage you to give us a call at (303) 798-1309 ext. 219 or send a message below.

Our audiologists are uniquely qualified to care for your hearing needs.

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