Information on hearing loss
Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is the inability to clearly hear sound in one or both ears. Millions of Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors, including age, genetics, loud noise exposure, ruptured eardrum, ototoxic medications, or underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. If you suspect you have hearing loss, it’s important to have your hearing checked immediately. Catching hearing loss early can prevent any issues with speech recognition or cognitive decline.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline
The slow onset of hearing loss can have a significant impact on several key brain functions, including the memory, hearing, speech, and language portions of cognition.
Hearing impairment is a greater risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia than other individual mid-life risks. The proactive management of modifiable risk factors such as hearing loss may delay or slow the onset or progression of the disease. Hearing aids have been proven to slow the progression of cognitive decline by providing the brain with the proper amplification to hear and recognize sounds.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss often occurs gradually, over the course of several years. For this reason, it can be difficult to recognize your hearing loss at first. If a loved one has suggested you have your hearing tested, that is a good first step. In addition, here are a few signs of hearing loss you should be aware of:
Types of Hearing Loss
Not every hearing loss is the same. Just as there are different degrees of loss, there are also different types. The three main types of hearing loss are sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is a result of damage to the inner ear or the hearing nerve which transmits sound from the ear to the brain. This is the most common type of hearing loss, affecting the most people. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by age, genetics, ototoxic medications, underlying health conditions, or loud noise exposure. This type of hearing loss can be successfully managed with hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is when there is a problem conducting sound through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. This can be caused by ear infection, ruptured eardrum, earwax impaction, fluid in the middle ear, or otosclerosis. Conductive hearing loss will need to be treated by a medical doctor through surgery or antibiotics.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive. The conductive portion will need to be treated by a medical doctor and the sensorineural portion can be managed with hearing aids.