Hearing loss is not just a problem that affects the elderly; it affects people of all ages. According to the NIH, one in eight people in the United States (13%) ages 12 years and older has hearing loss in both ears. 

Though hearing loss is a common issue, many individuals do not seek the treatment they need. Only 30% of people over 70 years old who need a hearing aid have actually used one. In the 20-69 age bracket, just 16% of people who could use a hearing device are wearing one.

What are the common causes of hearing loss?

Age-related hearing loss affects about one in three people in America. There are several other causes of hearing loss:

  • Earwax: When earwax builds up inside the ear, this can clog up the ear canal. As a result, it becomes difficult for soundwaves to pass through. Hearing impairment due to earwax tends to be temporary.
  • Infection: Ear infections can lead to hearing loss, as can abnormal tumors or growths inside the ear.
  • Damage inside the ear: exposure to loud noises can damage the cochlea. The cochlea is made up of nerve cells; these cells transmit sound signals through to your brain. If the cells become damaged, the signal cannot pass through as effectively.
  • Ruptured eardrum: Exposure to dangerous noise levels can rupture the eardrum; this can also be caused by foreign objects or a sudden change of pressure.
  • Some diseases: Some diseases can lead to hearing loss, including chickenpox, cytomegalovirus and meningitis.
  • Congenital hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is present from birth; it can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, birth injuries, or maternal diabetes.

How can I prevent hearing loss?

Many types of hearing loss are not preventable. However, there are ways to protect the ears and reduce your chances of experiencing hearing loss.

1. A moderate volume

To avoid damaging your hearing, do not expose your ears to excessively loud environments. Experts suggest that anything over 85 decibels can cause damage to the ears. When attending a concert, ensure that you use earplugs. If listening to music with headphones, keep the volume below 60%.

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of nutrients and antioxidants; this will help you to protect your body from free radicals. With the right diet, you’ll protect the health of your whole body, from your heart and lungs to your ears and eyes.

3. Regular hearing tests

Visit your audiologist regularly to have your hearing tested. Audiologists can provide advice and treatment options to protect and improve your hearing health. Regular hearing tests can help you to identify minor hearing problems and prevent these issues from worsening. 

What are the treatment options for hearing loss?

If you experience hearing loss, hearing aids can help to improve your hearing and your quality of life. There are a few different types of hearing aids.

Behind the ear (BTE)

As the name indicates, BTE hearing tests are positioned behind the ear. These devices include directional microphones, a telecoil and some have Bluetooth features. BTE hearing aids offer great sound quality and are suitable for all levels of hearing loss. These are the largest style of hearing aid and provide the best battery life.

In the canal 

ITC hearing aids are the smallest and most discreet hearing device, positioned right inside the ear canal. These hearing aids feature directional microphones and are suitable for people who experience moderate hearing loss.

In the ear

ITE hearing devices also fit inside the ear; these are slightly larger than ITCs. These devices provide excellent sound quality and are appropriate for people who have severe hearing loss.

An audiologist can help you to choose the most appropriate hearing device. They can also offer advice on other assisted listening devices to improve your quality of life.

What should I do if I think I have hearing loss?

There are several signs that you may be experiencing hearing loss; a few of these include:

  • Finding it hard to separate speech and background noise.
  • Sounds and speech are muffled.
  • Difficulty hearing consonants.
  • Asking people to speak up, or more clearly.
  • Listening to the TV at a high volume.
  • Your loved ones have noticed an issue.

If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, you should book an appointment with an audiologist. To learn more, contact Grusecki Audiology & Hearing Aid Services on 623-583-1737. Grusecki Audiology can provide audiology exams, hearing test fittings and more.