If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you’re in good company. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates about 40 million men and women in the U.S. have hearing loss that ranges from relatively mild to severe and profound. That includes people with acute, rapidly-developing hearing loss and those whose hearing problems have developed slowly over a period of years, usually as a result of the aging process.
In fact, age-related hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss among older adults, with nearly 9 percent of men and women between the ages of 55 and 64 years of age experiencing some degree of hearing loss. Between ages 65 and 74, that number climbs to about 25 percent, and those who are 75 years old and older have a 50 percent likelihood of suffering from hearing loss. As an age-related medical condition, hearing loss rates are exceeded only by arthritis and high blood pressure.
But here’s one of the most surprising statistics about hearing loss: Although most people with age-related hearing loss could substantially improve their hearing simply by wearing a hearing aid, most of those people opt not to wear one. In fact, fewer than a third of those over age 70 who have a hearing loss wear a hearing aid, and for those younger, the number drops to 16 percent. At least part of that reluctance is likely due to a misconception of hearing aids as being clunky and obtrusive, but thanks to advanced in technology, nothing could be farther from the truth. Today’s digital hearing aids are small and discrete, with models that can be worn behind the ear and even inside the ear. Plus, they’re lightweight and comfortable, and much more adaptable to today’s active lifestyles.
Types and Causes of Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is often temporary and can often be corrected. Conductive loss stems from problems of the outer or middle ear and can be caused by:
- Build-up of wax or fluid
- Punctured eardrum
This type of hearing loss can be treated with wax removal, medicine or surgery.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss/Nerve Deafness
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. In fact, it accounts for 90% of all adult hearing problems and is caused by aging and noise. With sensorineural loss:
- There are problems with the cochlea and the auditory nerve
- Sounds not only diminish in volume, but become distorted.
- High frequency sounds and some spoken words are first to go.
- Low frequency sounds, such as vowels, are heard better.
This type of hearing loss can be treated with amplification (hearing instruments) and, occasionally, surgery. For more information about surgical procedures, consult a physician.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Both conductive and sensorineural losses occur at the same time.
Warning Signs of Hearing Loss
There are two types of warning signs of hearing loss: Social and Emotional.
Social Hearing Loss
- You think other people sound muffled or are mumbling.
- You require frequent repetition.
- You have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like restaurants and malls.
- You have trouble hearing children’s and women’s voices.
- You have the TV and radio turned up to high volume.
- You answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
- You read lips or more intently watch people’s faces when they speak to you.
- You are often accused by others that you “only hear what want to hear” and have “selective listening”.
- You are told to “forget it” by family and friends who get frustrated when have to repeat themselves.
- You have been told that you speak too loudly.
Emotional Hearing Loss
- You feel stressed from straining to hear what others are saying.
- You feel annoyed at other people because you can’t hear or understand them.
- You feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
- You feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
- You start to withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms of hearing loss? Get a free hearing test today.
How Beltone Can Help
Nine out of ten hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life, according to a survey by the Better Hearing Institute of more than 2,300 consumers. According to research by National Council on Aging, which included nearly 4,000 participants (the largest survey of hearing aid users and non users), hearing aids were clearly associated with impressive improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well being of people with hearing loss in all categories of loss from mild to severe. Specifically, the survey results showed the following:
- Treatment of hearing loss improves the relationship at home and with family.
- The use of hearing instruments is associated with reductions in anger, frustration, paranoia and anxiety.
- Most people who use hearing instruments have improved social lives.
- People who use hearing instruments report better health than hard-of-hearing people who do not use hearing instruments.
- This survey debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition, but rather demonstrates that hearing loss is associated with physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being.
Getting help for hearing loss is easy and affordable.
Although hearing loss is a common side effect of aging, most doctors don’t screen for hearing issues during routine physicals, which means many men and women suffer from hearing loss when they don’t have to. Diagnosing hearing loss begins with a free hearing test at one of our 27 locations in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.