Hearing loss can affect patients at any age. Causes and treatments vary widely depending on the circumstances. Unaddressed hearing loss impairs the ability of a person to effectively communicate and interact with their surroundings and negatively impacts quality of life. Whether the patient is a toddler learning speech, a mid-career professional struggling to understand in meetings, or a senior trying to hear a church sermon, the first step is to diagnose the problem correctly, which our physicians will do at the Shea Ear Clinic, and recommend appropriate treatment. Many hearing problems are compounded by incorrectly diagnosed hearing loss.
Common complaints and effects on patients with hearing loss include:
- Asking people to repeat frequently
- Turning up the TV too loud or sitting too close
- Misunderstanding words or meanings
- Talking too loud
- Denial and embarrassment
- Social withdrawal, isolation, and loneliness
- Reduced job performance and earning power
- Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Irritability, frustration, and anger
- Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
- Diminished psychological and overall health
Generally, there are three types of hearing loss
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear canal or middle ear that blocks the conduction of sound to the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss is often reversible.
- Sensorineural hearing loss or “nerve deafness”, is caused by damage to the inner ear, auditory nerve, or auditory nerve pathways to the brain. Often, this type of loss is not reversible, but it is still treatable.
- A mixed loss is a combination of a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss.
Am I losing my hearing?
Hearing loss may be gradual or sudden and affects us emotionally, physically, and socially. These common behaviors and responses may indicate hearing loss.
- Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations
- Think people’s speech is muffled or they mumble
- Have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people
- Require frequent repetition
- Have trouble hearing and understanding women and children
- Find yourself reading lips or watching their faces when they speak
- Have difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings such as restaurants
- Require your TV or radio turned up to high volume
- Feel stressed from straining to hear
- Feel annoyed with others because you can’t hear or understand them
- Feel embarrassed from not being able to understand others
- Feel nervous about trying to hear and understand others
- Avoid social functions because of difficulty hearing
Why am I losing my hearing?
Age, disease and injury generally contribute to the inability to hear. Repeated exposure to loud noise over time can damage the delicate structures of the ear, and ultimately, the ability to hear. Family history, genetics and even medications can contribute to hearing loss.