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Hearing Loss

hearing-loss.hrHearing 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 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.

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. Cochlear implants are used in profound hearing loss where hearing aids are not working. Cochlear implants are surgically planted beneath the skin and use electrodes to stimulate the auditory nerve and restore hearing.

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

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