How Common is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is a common condition that affects one out of three people by the age of 65. It’s not just a disease of the elderly, however; it’s becoming increasingly common in younger people who are exposed to excessive noise levels. Taking steps early to protect hearing can prevent individuals from developing a hearing impairment in the future.
Hearing loss is any degree of impairment in the ability to detect or comprehend sound. For hearing to occur, sound waves pass through the external, middle and inner ear, where they are translated into nerve impulses and sent to the brain, which then interprets those signals as sound. Any interruption to this process can cause a partial or total loss of hearing.
What Are Some Signs of Hearing Loss?
Signs of hearing loss include muffled speech, difficulty understanding words (especially when in background noise), frequently asking others to repeat themselves, turning up the volume on the television or radio and social withdrawal. Symptoms often appear so gradually that patients are unaware of a problem until a family member or friend points it out.
Hearing Loss Categories
Hearing loss is divided into two categories: Conductive and Sensorineural. A third type – Mixed Hearing Loss – occurs when patients experience a combination of the other two categories.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is the result of problems that involve the middle ear and may be able to be managed medically. It is caused by ear infections, earwax accumulations, trauma to the ear and abnormalities or growths. Medications, surgery and earwax removal may all be effective, depending on the circumstances.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss involves damage to the inner ear and, while rarely curable, is often successfully treated with hearing aids (or, in some cases, cochlear implants). It is the result of nerve damage from aging, noise exposure, viruses and diseases and hereditary factors.
Call UCHealth Hearing & Balance at (720) 848-2800 for more information or to schedule an appointment.