Hearing Loss FAQs

How do I know if I have hearing issues or hearing loss?

There are many warning signs that may indicate hearing decline. These include:

  1. Asking people to repeat themselves
  2. Difficulty hearing someone if they are not looking at you
  3. Struggling to understand in crowded places or places with background noise
  4. Having a hard time following a conversation of two or more people
  5. Increased difficulty understanding/hearing television
  6. A perception that people are mumbling when talking to you

If you are experiencing any of the above, consider seeing an audiologist for an evaluation of your hearing.

What are the most common causes of hearing loss?

  1. Aging Process
  2. Excessive noise exposure from work or hobbies
  3. Certain illnesses such as viral infections or diabetes
  4. Obesity
  5. Smoking
  6. Hypertension
  7. Ear infections
  8. Wax buildup

To help better define the nature of your hearing loss, an assessment is recommended.  

How Do I Know If I Have Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can develop gradually and the person may not realize their hearing has decreased. Problems usually revolve around situations when there is background noise or more than one source of incoming sound. Hearing loss is ubiquitous with age. About one-third of people in the U.S. between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. That number increases to 50 percent of people over age 75.

These are general signs you may have hearing loss:

  • Difficulty understanding words, especially in a room with other conversations simultaneously occurring (such as at a party)
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to repeat what they said
  • Difficulty understanding someone talking who isn’t looking directly at you
  • Need for higher volume levels when watching TV or listening to music
  • Difficulty following a conversation involving at least two people

If you have these signs of hearing loss, we can verify any deficiencies with various tests. That’s the first step to improving your hearing…understanding that you have hearing loss. You may be surprised just how much hearing quality you’ve lost and how it has affected your life.

Types Of Hearing Loss

There are three types of defined hearing loss:

  • Sensorineural — This is the most common form of hearing loss, and it involves the inner ear. It occurs when tiny hair cells within the inner ear (the cochlea) are damaged. This is permanent hearing loss and can only be addressed in the majority of patients through use of hearing aids. Patients with severe sensorineural hearing loss may benefit from cochlear implantation.
  • Conductive — This type of hearing loss involves the outer or middle ear. Most conductive hearing loss results from a blockage of the normal air conduction sound pathways. This type of hearing loss may be caused by excessive ear wax or an object lodged in the ear canal. Another common cause is fluid accumulation in the middle ear, typical with ear infections.
  • Mixed — This hearing loss is a combination of both of the above.

How common is hearing loss?

Approximately 36 million American adults report some degree of hearing loss.  The older a person is, the more likely they are to have hearing loss.  Approximately 1/3 of those 65-74 suffer from hearing loss and approximately ½ of those 75 and older.

Is hearing loss hereditary?

Some inherited forms of hearing loss occur early in life, some even at birth. If a family member presents with early onset hearing loss, it is important to monitor that person’s children or siblings. Otherwise, certain forms of hearing loss, like otosclerosis, present later in childhood or even into the 30s. It cannot hurt to have family members tested in the event of concern of hereditary hearing loss.

Can medications cause hearing loss?

It is possible to have hearing loss as a side effect of certain medications.  Most commonly, those taking chemotherapeutics (chemicals for cancer treatment), may present with hearing loss. Similarly, certain erectile dysfunction medications as more likely to have hearing loss or even sudden hearing loss. Always consult your medical professional if there is concern of declining hearing due to medication.

What other things can cause hearing loss?

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Untreated ear infections
  • Growths in the inner ear
  • Certain infections such is meningitis and measles
  • Certain inner ear diseases such as Meniere’s disease or cochlear hydrops

What can increase hearing loss?

  • Chronic exposure to noise without hearing protection
  • Poor oxygen and blood flow through the body
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Sleep apnea
  • Iron deficiency
  • Diabetes
  • Nicotine consumption

Can I cure my hearing loss?

Unless the loss is sudden, which can be treated by certain medications, or one that can be surgically repaired, hearing loss is an aging process that cannot be cured or reversed.

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact the audiology staff at Coastal Ear, Nose, and Throat.