Understanding Hearing Loss

By February 4, 2019 Hearing Loss, Hearing Tips

Understanding Hearing Loss

Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age is common. About 25 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 55 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 65, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 50 percent. In Georgetown TX the concentration of older adults is more concentrated which in turn raises the ratio of hearing impaired higher. 

Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises are significant factors that contribute to hearing loss. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily prevent your ears from conducting sounds as well as they should.

You can’t reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you don’t have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear. Getting your hearing tested by a qualified person like, Karen Block at Advanced Hearing Aid Solutions yearly will help to determine the extent of your hearing loss and the type of loss. 

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:

  • Muffled speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

Some causes of hearing loss include damage to the inner ear, a buildup of earwax, infections and a ruptured eardrum. To understand how hearing loss occurs, it can be helpful to understand how you hear.

Hearing occurs when sound waves reach the structures inside your ear, where the sound wave vibrations are converted into nerve signals that your brain recognizes as sound.

Your ear consists of three major areas: outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Sound waves pass through the outer ear and cause vibrations at the eardrum. The eardrum and three small bones of the middle ear amplify the vibrations as they travel to the inner ear. There, the vibrations pass through fluid in a snail-shaped structure in the inner ear (cochlea).

Attached to nerve cells in the cochlea are thousands of tiny hairs that help translate sound vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to your brain. The vibrations of different sounds affect these tiny hairs in different ways, causing the nerve cells to send different signals to your brain. That’s how you distinguish one sound from another.

Causes of hearing loss include:

  • Damage to the inner ear. Aging and exposure to loud noise may cause wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea that send sound signals to the brain. When these hairs or nerve cells are damaged or missing, electrical signals aren’t transmitted as efficiently, and hearing loss occurs. Higher pitched tones may become muffled to you (consonants).

It may become difficult for you to pick out words against background noise. Heredity may make you more prone to these changes. This type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss, which is permanent.

  • A gradual buildup of earwax. Earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. This can be restored with earwax removal.
  • Ear infection and abnormal bone growths or tumors. In the outer or middle ear, any of these can cause hearing loss.
  • Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation). Loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object and infection can cause your eardrum to rupture and affect your hearing.

Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:

  • Aging. Degeneration inner ear structures occurs over time.
  • Loud noise. Exposure to loud sounds can damage the cells of your inner ear. Damage can occur with long-term exposure to loud noises, or from a short blast of noise, such as from a gunshot.
  • Heredity. Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage from loud sounds or deterioration from aging.
  • Occupational noises. Jobs where loud noise part of the working environment, such as farming, construction or factory work, Military, can lead to damage inside your ear.
  • Recreational noises. Exposure to explosive noises, such as from firearms and jet engines, can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss. Other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels include Wind, snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music.
  • Some medications. Drugs, such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs, can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on your hearing — ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss can occur if you take high doses of aspirin, other pain relievers, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
  • Some illnesses. Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea. Allergies can cause fluid buildup in the ears.

Hearing loss can have a significant effect on your quality of life.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration

Unfortunately, most people affected by hearing loss live with these difficulties for years before seeking treatment. This may also cause lasting problems for those who love you, if you try to cope by denying your hearing loss or withdrawing from social interactions.

You should have your Hearing tested annually and build the test into your wellness program. A base line test will allow you to notice changes of your overall health.

There is a link between many health issues regarding hearing loss. If you notice a significant loss or sudden loss in hearing seek help from your healthcare professional.

Advanced Hearing Aid Solutions

Digital hearing aids can be programed for your specific loss.  The sounds that you are missing due to the damaged hairs in your cochlea can be reintroduced to you at a balanced frequency. When you have hearing loss you may only understand the vowel sounds and understanding speech is like a puzzle. A well-programed hearing aid can help fill in the gaps allowing you to understand speech. This will also lower anxiety and frustration.

There have many new technology breakthroughs recently. Bluetooth and streaming devices that introduce sound directly into the hearing aid (TV, Stereo, Phone, Computer).

T-Coil systems are readily available at local theatres, churches, courtrooms. The T-Coil is an electromagnetic field that enables your Hearing Aid to directly receive sound from the source.

Rechargeable batteries have eliminated the need to change batteries. The new batteries can hold a charge and last up to 30 in active use. They recharge with in just a few hours. The battery life is between 5-7 years at 100% strength. There is an expected drop off 2% annually after the 5-7 period. This new battery allows the hearing Aid to be factory sealed and virtually highly moisture resistant.

Faster processing microcomputer chips have greater ability to filter out background noises and focus the quality of speech. All sounds and noise can be quantified and have been built into the algorithms used during programing. This allows the wearer of the new hearing aids to understand and communicate in loud places like a restaurant. To reduce wind now when outside. The new hearing aids can be programed to respond to any environment you may be exposed to. The hearing aids are smart and will know where you are and change programs to assist the wearer.

Cell phone and remote control compatible. You can completely control your hearing environment using your phone or remote. It’s like having a graphic equalizer in your pocket.

TV Streamers work on your computers, TV, Stereo equipment.   Using Bluetooth technology, you can stream sound directly into your hearing aid so the sound can be filtered and programed for you.  The sound quality is amazing, and your sound experience greatly improved. This also controls the volume in your hearing aid so avoids the need to blast the devise volume.

Remote Microphones can be placed anywhere the wearer wants to receive sound directly into the hearing aid. Passengers in or on your vehicle, podiums, dinner tables, hiking, horseback riding.  They stream sound directly to the hearing aid allowing for greater freedom and enhanced communication.

Remote Chargers last up to 90 hours of charging and do not require an electrical outlet until it needs to be charged. This is great for travel when you do not have access to electricity.  You can keep your hearing aids charged for a full week.

Advanced Hearing Aid solutions have never been more readily available.  Better sound quality in noise, better speech recognition, faster processing and enhanced programs, Cell phone remote control, streaming, T-Coil, Rechargeable batteries. Hearing Aids have never been better.