A hearing test is simple and painless. It takes most people years to notice the gradual onset of hearing loss. So if you are starting to have problems hearing certain voices, if you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, if others seem to mumble, or if you need to turn the TV volume up to a level uncomfortable for others to enjoy – these are signs that it’s time to test your hearing. Hearing loss is not something to hide or ignore. In fact, untreated hearing loss is more visible to others than hearing aids. Hearing loss can negatively affect one’s emotional and social well being too and cause depression, isolation from others, breakdown of relationships, insecurity, and an overall sense of helplessness.
Hearing loss is an ‘understanding’ problem. Understanding words and sentences is a function of your brain and relies on receiving sound signals unaltered. Your ears collect sound, transform it into nerve impulses, and send it to the brain where understanding occurs. Most nerve loss in the inner ear occurs with high-pitched softer parts of speech, which give meaning to many of our words. Advanced hearing aids are engineered to help you reclaim a lost sensitivity to many of these higher pitched sounds with the goal to improve your ability to understand.
While hearing loss is common as we age, there are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss.
- Excessive Noise Exposure (prolonged loud music, gun shots, noisy machinery)
- Head Injury
- Genetics or Birth Defects
- Drug or Treatment Reaction (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation).
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a condition or disease that blocks or impedes the movement of sound waves throughout the outer or middle ear. The result is a reduction in loudness or clarity of sound that reaches the inner ear. The treatment for conductive loss can vary and may include surgical intervention depending on the cause.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from auditory nerve dysfunction within the inner ear. It is typically irreversible and permanent. It affects the intensity (or loudness) of sound, but more often results in a lack of clarity of sounds, particularly speech. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is prescriptive sound amplification through advanced hearing aids.
Most always hearing loss is categorized as either conductive or sensorineural. Most hearing loss is sensorineural and commonly referred to as “nerve loss.” A combination of the two types is called a “mixed hearing loss.” Unilateral hearing loss affects one ear; bilateral hearing loss affects both ears. Treatment options vary for the different types of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected by surgery or medication, but may be treated using advanced hearing aid technology.