According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 1 in 3 people between the ages of 64 and 75 have hearing loss, and almost half over the age of 75 have difficulty hearing. But hearing loss can impact people of any age. Almost 36 million adults in the U.S. are affected by hearing loss.
What causes hearing loss?
There are different reasons for hearing loss:
- A condition called presbycusis is loss of hearing due to aging of the body.
- Long-term exposure to loud noise can affect all ages.
- Viral or bacterial infections, and stroke and head injuries can lead to hearing loss.
Do you suffer from hearing loss?
Hearing loss is often a gradual process that worsens over time. Numerous factors can affect your hearing, including exposure to noise, music and more. To help determine if you may have a hearing loss, take this simple test:
- You can hear, but you can't understand. High-pitched sounds, such as women's and children's voices may "disappear." You may confuse similar sounding words such as, "dime," "time," "bake," and "take."
- You have difficulty understanding what is being said, unless you are directly facing the speaker.
- You are continually asking people to repeat words or phrases.
- You prefer the TV or radio louder than others do.
- You avoid social occasions, family gatherings or group meetings where listening may be difficult.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, seek a medical evaluation.
How is hearing loss treated?
- Hearing aids – These are digital devices that amplify sounds programmed to meet your needs at specific pitches. Hearing aids are fitted into the ear canal or behind the ear. They are adjusted to your comfort and preference depending upon the severity of your hearing loss.
- Cochlear implant – A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that is surgically implanted into the inner ear to address severe hearing loss and deafness.
- Bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) – A bone anchored hearing aid is for patients with conductive hearing loss caused by damage to inner ear structures. BAHA involves placing a small titanium implant in the bone behind the ear, with a small magnet or titanium post used to attach the processor. The processor feeds information directly through the bone of the skull base to the inner ear, bypassing dysfunctional ear structures.
See your family doctor and an otolaryngologist or audiologist to discuss your hearing loss concerns.