In the first of our three-part series about the basics of hearing loss and hearing aids, we will talk about what exactly hearing loss is, hearing loss signs and symptoms, and the different causes of hearing loss.
What is hearing loss and what are the signs and symptoms?
Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well people hear the world around them. It may occur in one or both ears, can be temporary or permanent, and can create difficulties at work or with social interaction. Hearing loss can be categorized as mild (25 to 40 dB), moderate (41 to 55 dB), moderate-severe (56 to 70 dB), severe (71 to 90 dB), or profound (greater than 90 dB).
Over 48 million people suffer from some form of hearing loss in the United States alone, and one in three people over the age of 65 has difficulty hearing. In most cases, hearing loss cannot be cured. Some of the symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Having to strain to hear
- People say you are shouting when you talk to them
- You hear better out of one ear than the other
- Difficulty hearing when in a group of people
- You find yourself asking others to repeat themselves over and over
Unfortunately, many people experiencing hearing loss put off seeking treatment, which can worsen their condition even more. Ignoring hearing difficulties can have many major health repercussions such as social withdrawal, isolation, increased risk of depression, cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia, and a decrease in balance – which can cause an increase in physical injuries.
Hearing loss happens for many different reasons.
Hearing loss can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous – so why does it happen? There are many causes, but some are more common than others. As we age, many people slowly start to lose their hearing. This type of hearing loss is known as presbycusis (prez-buh-KYOO-sis). Doctors still aren’t sure why presbycusis affects some more than others, but it seems to be hereditary.
Another reason for hearing loss is exposure to excessively loud sounds, which is better known as noise-induced hearing loss.
Veterans, musicians, heavy equipment operators, and farmers have hearing problems even in their younger and middle years because they’ve been so continually exposed to damaging noise levels. The sooner an individual seeks treatment for their hearing loss, the better the long-term outcome for their hearing health.
Stay tuned for part two of this three-part Hearing Loss 101 series to learn more about what exactly a hearing aid is and some of the common features.
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