Do you know the signs of hearing loss? It seems simple, right? If you have trouble hearing, you could be suffering from hearing loss. But it’s a little more complicated.

Recently, researchers at Manchester University studied the wide-spread impact of hearing loss. According to their data, one-third of people over 50 have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that only 20% of those that suffer from hearing loss actually seek help.

And, given that healthcare providers only screen 12% of their patients for hearing loss, millions of individuals are suffering from hearing loss with no end in sight.

Today, we want to talk about how you can be proactive. Combating hearing loss isn’t just our lives; we believe it’s a crucial need for our broader public health landscape. Here’s what you need to know about hearing loss.

Understanding Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a gradual, permanent, and chronic condition. In some rare cases, hearing loss can develop quickly. For example, standing near a jet engine can severely damage your inner ear — leading to rapid hearing loss.

But for most, hearing loss happens over the years. There are a few different “types” of hearing loss. These include:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the most common type of hearing loss and accounts for ~90% of hearing loss cases. Sensorineural hearing loss stems from damage to the inner ear or middle ear.
  • Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is often caused by fluid or ear wax buildup. Conductive hearing loss happens when something physical prevents sounds from getting to the inner ear.
  • Mixed hearing loss: This happens when a patient is dealing with both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss simultaneously.
  • Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD): This is the rarest form of hearing loss. ANSD occurs when damage to hearing nerves, hair cells, synapses, or neural networks prevent sounds from being properly translated by the brain.

Most patients deal with sensorineural hearing loss, which is often progressive and slow acting.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

We arrange hearing loss into degrees. These range from mild to moderate, severe, and profound.

With mild hearing loss, you may simply have difficulty hearing people in a crowd. With profound hearing loss, you will only be able to hear loud sounds.

Unfortunately, many patients ignore the early signs during the mild and moderate range. This can quickly lead to severe or profound hearing loss without treatment.

Here are some of the common symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds (e.g., doorbells, alarms, etc.)
  • Asking people to repeat themselves constantly
  • Tinnitus (i.e., ringing in your ears)
  • Hard time concentrating during conversations
  • Turning up the volume on electronics higher than usual
  • Withdrawing from social settings
  • Avoiding conversations altogether

Of course, there can be other causes for each of these symptoms, so it’s important to discuss these symptoms with your hearing care specialist.

Are You Suffering From Hearing Loss?

Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Undiagnosed hearing loss can lead to serious hearing issues later in life. While our current healthcare system may be inadequately screening for hearing loss, you still have a chance to be proactive.

If you notice any of the symptoms above, set up an appointment with our best-in-class hearing specialists today. Hearing is a beautiful thing to waste.

 

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Mark D. Johnson, HAS, BC-HIS, A.C.A.

Mark D. Johnson, HAS, BC-HIS, A.C.A.

Mark began his career in the hearing healthcare field in 1993 with a major hearing aid/care provider. He opened his own practice in 1994 in Orlando, Fl.  In 1995, he became board-certified, and through continued training received his A.C.A. credentialing as a certified audioprosthologist in 1997. He has conducted many hearing educational workshops, both for professionals and for the general public, and trained many individuals in the hearing healthcare field.