Hearing loss is considered a significant public health issue and the third most prevalent physical health condition. In the U.S. alone, approximately 15 percent of adults over the age of 18 report some degree of hearing difficulty. It is estimated that 28.8 million adults in the United States would benefit from the use of hearing aids.
There are many types of hearing loss, but they fall under three categories: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
This type of hearing loss is caused by loss of or damage to the hair cells located in the inner and outer ear. While it is a normal part of aging to lose some of these cells (and why hearing usually becomes less acute as we get older), these cells are sometimes damaged by extremely loud or prolonged exposure to loud noise. This type of hearing loss usually responds well to hearing aids.
Damage to the structures within the ear or obstructions that hinder movement of the ossicles and eardrum define this type of hearing loss. Causes can range from a malformation of one or more parts of the middle ear, ear canal, or outer ear, to impacted ear wax or an ear infection. Often, medical intervention can help to correct or improve the conditions. This may include medication, topical treatment, and even surgery.
Sometimes hearing loss is caused by a combination of sensorineural and conductive issues. While some of the causes of severe hearing loss tend to fall under the sensorineural category, those problems are significantly compounded when combined with conductive issues. Treatment may include a combination of methods, addressing the conductive and sensorineural causes separately. Signs of hearing loss often depends on whether it falls mostly under the conductive or the sensorineural category. Speech that can be understood if it is loud enough and there is only minimal background noise indicates conductive damage while an overall difficulty in understanding speech even when it seems to be at an adequate volume indicates sensorineural damage.
Many types of hearing loss can be managed if caught early. A simple hearing test can find the underlying cause, allowing you to begin treatment. We have a team of hearing specialists who are trained in evaluating and treating hearing loss. Contact us today to book your free hearing evaluation.