Hearing loss is the third most prevalent physical condition in the U.S. Despite the perception that it mainly affects the elderly, in reality people of all ages can—and do—develop hearing loss. Approximately 48 million, to be exact. That’s 20% of the American population!
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Presbycusis (aging) and noise exposure are the most common causes of hearing loss, but are not the only ones. Many other factors can be responsible, depending on your type of hearing loss.
Main types of hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss affects the outer and/or middle ears. This type of hearing loss can often be treated successfully with medications or surgery. The following conditions may contribute to conductive loss:
- Ear infections
- Excess fluid in the middle ear
- Impacted earwax
- Foreign objects in the ear canals
- Perforated eardrum
- Malformations or deformities
Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear and hearing nerve. It is far more common than conductive loss; about 90% of hearing impaired patients experience a sensorineural loss. There is no cure, but hearing aids are typically very helpful in treating it. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by the following:
- Presbycusis (aging)
- Noise exposure
- Viral disease
- Autoimmune disorder
- Malformations or deformities of the inner ear
- Meniere’s disease
Additionally, some people suffer from mixed loss. These patients experience problems with their outer, middle and inner ears.
Hearing Loss Signs
Hearing loss is a progressive condition that only grows worse with time. Symptoms often develop gradually and, because they are invisible, can be difficult to detect. Some people attribute their loss to confusion or changes in their personality.
On average, it takes an individual seven years to seek medical treatment for hearing loss.
Being aware of the signs will increase your chances of successful treatment because, as with many medical conditions, early detection is key. If you are experiencing any of the following, you may have a hearing impairment:
- You often ask others to repeat themselves
- You believe that other people mumble when they speak
- You turn up the volume to levels others find uncomfortable when watching TV or listening to music
- You have difficulty following conversations in crowded places where background noise is prevalent
- You avoid social gatherings
If you are a Utah County resident experiencing these or other symptoms of loss of hearing, please schedule an appointment for a hearing test with Timpanogos Hearing & Balance. We can help you improve your communication abilities!