Hearing Loss FAQ

What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss?

Hearing loss is gradual, and may not be immediately noticeable. Signs that might indicate a loss of hearing include having trouble understanding speech, especially when women or children are talking; frequently asking speakers to repeat themselves; difficulty hearing in crowds and situations with background noise; the belief that other people are mumbling or speaking incoherently; having the volume at a level others find uncomfortable when watching television; experiencing tinnitus (a ringing in the ears); withdrawing from social situations.

What are the causes of hearing loss?

The most common causes of hearing loss are noise exposure (noise-induced hearing loss) and aging (presbycusis). Other factors also contribute to hearing loss including ear infections, excess earwax, genetics, abnormal growths or tumors, trauma to the ears or head, exposure to ototoxic medications (those that have a toxic effect on the ear or hearing nerve), and diseases such as otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, etc.

How is hearing loss classified?

Hearing loss is categorized as conductive (affecting the outer or middle ear), sensorineural (impacting the inner ear and/or hearing nerve), or mixed (a combination of both types). Conductive hearing loss can often be corrected, while sensorineural hearing loss usually responds well to treatment with hearing aids.

Is hearing loss preventable?

Certain types of hearing loss are preventable, especially noise-induced hearing loss. Wearing hearing protection when exposed to noise exceeding 85 decibels for extended periods of time is key to preventing hearing loss from occurring. Keeping the volume low, listening to music for shorter periods of time, and avoiding the insertion of foreign objects into your ears can all help, as well.

Do hearing aids really help?

Hearing aids help many people, young and old, who suffer primarily from sensorineural hearing loss. They amplify sounds, enabling better hearing and communication.

Aren’t hearing aids associated with older people?

People of all ages experience hearing loss. Today’s devices are small and discreet; many sit deep within the ear canals, making them virtually invisible to other people. The truth is, if you must frequently ask others to repeat themselves, respond inappropriately during conversations, and withdraw from social activities, your condition will be every bit as obvious.

How will I know which type of hearing aid is best?

An audiologist can recommend the best type of hearing aid for your particular needs. He or she will take a look at several factors including the type and severity of your hearing loss, the size and shape of your ears, your lifestyle needs and manual dexterity in determining which type of aid is best suited to you.