Hearing loss - challenges and solutions

Hearing loss is a condition in which an individual struggles to hear certain sounds or decipher speech. Some people are born with a hearing impairment; however, most people with deficits find their problems develop over time. Since it affects one of our most important senses, and treatment improves your overall well-being, we encourage you to seek professional help so you can hear well again.

If you wonder “do I have hearing loss?” you are not alone. There are signs. It may be as simple as not enjoying social gatherings as much as you used to because you can’t follow the conversation as easily as before. It could be that you notice high-pitched sounds are harder to hear. Perhaps specific letters are challenging, such as words with s, f, p and diphthongs (double consonants).

Learn the signs

Ignoring changes to your hearing can have serious consequences. Recent studies have demonstrated links between hearing impairment and numerous psychological and cognitive disorders, including depression, anxiety, isolation, fatigue, cognitive decline and dementia — with risk factors increasing substantially as the level of loss increases.2

  • Hearing loss quick stats

  • About 1 in 5 adults has hearing loss1

  • On average, people with hearing loss wait 7-10 years before getting treatment1

  • 80% of people age 55-74 years who could benefit from hearing aids do not use them3

  • By age 65, one in three seniors has hearing loss4

  • Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health condition among adults5

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Types of hearing loss

Hearing problems can range from mild to moderate, severe, or profound. Profound hearing loss and "deafness" can mean the same thing; that is, very little or no hearing. Some people lose hearing only in one ear, although it usually affects both. Depending on the cause, hearing impairment can be temporary or permanent. A loud noise event may result in sudden hearing loss, although generally you lose your hearing slowly and it worsens over time.

Physically, there are two types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss.

  • DO I have hearing loss?

    Do you need to see people’s faces when they are talking? Find restaurants challenging?

  • Unfortunately, hearing loss is often irreversible. But we have solutions so you can continue to enjoy your lifestyle. 

  • Someone I know might have hearing loss

    Often, friends or family members will first notice hearing problems before the individual does.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom in which people with or without hearing loss hear sounds such as ringing, buzzing or whooshing. Tinnitus can be debilitating and impact sleep patterns. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, some treatments can help to reduce the symptoms and their associated problems. For some people, hearing aids help.

Explore more about tinnitus

This first step is the critical one. But once you’ve made your first appointment with a hearing care professional, do you know what to do? We advise you to bring someone to your first appointment. It is often helpful when a close friend or family member can contribute insights on your needs and give our professionals more information so we can offer the most effective treatment for your unique needs.

Identify solutions for your lifestyle

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Causes of hearing loss

Many people experience a gradual loss of hearing as they get older. Noise-induced hearing loss results from repeated exposure to high-volume sounds such as machinery and loud music. Extremely loud noise may result in sudden hearing loss. Loud sounds can damage the hair cells in the cochlea (called cilia), which lose sensitivity. But loud sound isn't the only reason that people lose their hearing. Drugs, diseases and physical trauma can all trigger hearing loss.

What is it like to live with hearing loss?

Although it may take some adjustment, with modern treatment and hearing instruments, you can live a full and active life with diminished hearing. Small hearing aids can sit so far in the ear canal they are undetectable, and well out of the way – so you can continue with energetic activities and forget you are wearing them. Besides hearing aids, we have tips to help you and your loved ones adjust.

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1Hearing Loss Association of America

2The Americans for Better Hearing Foundation

3International Journal of Audiology

4hearinghealthfoundation.org

5hearingloss.org