What Do You Need to Know About Hearing Loss?

woman holding hand to ear outside

If you believe that you have an issue with your hearing, you need to know all that you can about hearing loss. Hearing loss pertains to trouble you are having with your hearing, whether that’s in one or both ears. Hearing loss is something that can happen suddenly, or it can happen over time. If you notice any changes, the best thing that you can do is speak to a hearing health professional. They will be able to walk you through everything that you need to know in person, but before you get there, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are different types of hearing loss and while you may think a loss is a loss, it’s not all the same. Hearing loss pertains to fading or sudden hearing loss, and the different types include:

  • Conductive hearing loss, which occurs in the middle or outer ear. Sound waves are blocked from getting to your inner ears. This is the type of hearing loss usually caused by earwax buildup. It can also be caused by fluid and punctured ear drums. 
  • Sensorineural hearing loss pertains to damage in the inner ears. There’s no cure for this type of hearing loss.
  • Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both of these types of hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Causes

There are many different causes of hearing loss, whether that hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural. Some of the leading causes include:

  • Aging: Not all seniors have hearing loss, but the older you are, the higher the chances hearing loss can occur.
  • Noise: If you are regularly exposed to loud noises, you are more at risk of hearing loss. This can be from concerts to using loud power tools.
  • Head injuries: Head injuries that involve the structure of the ear on the inside can cause sudden hearing loss.
  • Blockages: There are blockages in the ear from earwax to a cyst that can occur over time. 
  • Medical conditions: If you have abnormal growth of the bones of the ear and recurring ear infections, these can cause hearing loss over time.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

There are many different signs and symptoms that you are dealing with hearing loss. Some of these signs are:

  • You’re asking people to speak up or repeat themselves
  • You are leaning in very closely when people talk to you.
  • The radio or the television are at their highest volume and you’re still having issues.
  • You’ve noticed a ringing in your ears
  • You avoid crowded spaces because you can’t hear your friends.

How Is Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

When you speak to a hearing health professional, they will use a mixture of questions and hearing tests to diagnose hearing loss. Your hearing health professional will use any of the following:

  • Tuning forks may be used to test your hearing: It vibrates and makes a noise when it touches an object. This will be held to either ear to test your hearing correctly.
  • Audiometry tests will also be used to see how well you can hear different sounds: Headphones are attached to a machine and sounds are fed to your ears. You’ll then press a button or raise a hand when you can hear the sounds. Another device may be held to the back of your head to do a bone conduction test.
  • Tympanometry is another test used to find any hearing issues in the middle ear. A device is put into the ear to create pressure changes to vibrate the eardrum.

How Will Your Hearing Loss Be Treated?

One of the most common treatments for hearing loss is a hearing aid. Your hearing health professional will work with you to try out different types of hearing aids to see which one will work best for you. One of the following may be recommended:

  • In the ear (ITE): ITE hearing aids are worn in the outer ear bowl and are suitable for individuals with mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss. These devices are medium-sized and come in a range of colors to suit your needs.
  • Behind the ear (BTE): BTE hearing aids are the most widely recommended devices because they are ideal for anything from mild-to-profound hearing loss. They are also easy to handle and provide powerful sound.
  • In the canal (ITC): ITC hearing aids are the smallest of the three main options and provide an incredibly natural listening experience because of their location in the canal. They are commonly recommended for individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

Your hearing care provider will work closely with you to determine the best possible solution for your daily lifestyle and hearing loss needs.