Hearing loss remains a concern for all individuals today. Over 50 percent of Americans 75 years of age and older suffer from some hearing loss. Understanding the causes of hearing loss and knowing the early signs is of great importance to reduce the risk of deafness. Fortunately, help is available for those who have lost some or most of their hearing.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss comes in three forms. Conductive loss is a type of hearing loss that involves the middle or outer ear, while sensorineural loss affects the inner ear. Some individuals have a mixture of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which audiologists refer to as mixed hearing loss. Regardless of which type a person might be experiencing, as soon as they notice a decline in their hearing, they need to schedule a hearing test for an accurate diagnosis.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss comes as a natural part of the aging process. Known as presbycusis, this type of hearing loss may be the result of changes in the inner ear. However, frequent exposure to loud noises may lead to hearing loss. Something as simple as excessive earwax can also interfere with a person’s hearing. Any hearing loss needs to be investigated immediately, as a person cannot get their hearing back once they lose it. However, they can improve the hearing that remains.
Many people don’t realize hearing loss could be a sign of another medical condition. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss. The loss of hearing might also be a sign of a brain tumor or stroke. It could also be a side effect of a medication the individual is taking. If this is the case, the doctor may wish to change the medication to prevent further damage to the hearing.
Symptoms of Early Hearing Loss
Every person should be aware of the symptoms of early hearing loss. When speech sounds muffled or other sounds aren’t as clear as they used to be, a person needs to set up an appointment for a hearing test to learn what is going on. Some people find they have trouble understanding others when there is a lot of background noise, such as when they are in a crowd.
The inability to hear consonants is a sign of hearing loss, as is the need to regularly ask other people to speak slowly, loudly, and clearly. When a person must turn up the volume on the TV or radio to hear what is being said or sung, they should be tested for hearing loss. Furthermore, a person who has ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus, should request a hearing test.
Scheduling a Hearing Test
Any loss of hearing needs to be investigated by a doctor. Older Americans should have their hearing tested regularly to catch any loss at any early stage. It’s easy to miss the warning signs, as the loss tends to be gradual. However, if a person experiences a sudden loss of hearing in one or both ears, they need to see a doctor immediately to learn what is going on. This is a medical emergency and must be treated as such.
A loss of hearing can lead to many issues in a person’s life. They may avoid social situations and become isolated, which can lead to depression and other mental health issues. The inability to hear clearly can also put a person in danger, as they cannot hear warnings, such as a car horn. Never put off a trip to the audiologist if the ability to hear decreases. Prompt action will help to slow or halt the progression of hearing loss, and the doctor can treat any hearing loss that has already occurred. Make this appointment today.