What Can Cause Hearing Loss?Understanding the root causes behind hearing loss can give you a firm grasp on why you might need a hearing aid. What most people don’t realize is that hearing loss is really quite common.
AgingAging is the primary cause of most hearing loss. In the United States, 33% of people over the age of 65 experience some amount of hearing loss, and 50% of people over 75 have hearing impairment. The simple fact is that as you get older, your senses (sight, smell, hearing, etc.) often decline. It’s an unfortunate reality we all have to deal with and is nothing to be embarrassed about. Age-related hearing loss is often gradual, meaning it’s easy to miss at first. As the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders notes:
Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss is gradual, if you have age-related hearing loss you may not realize that you've lost some of your ability to hear.The implication? If you’re not paying close attention, hearing loss can sneak up on you.
Loud Noise ExposureProlonged exposure to loud noise, whether because of your job or other reasons, can lead to hearing loss. Loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hairs within your ears which then leads to decreased ability to hear. What constitutes “loud” noise? Generally speaking, anything louder than 80-90 decibels (heavy traffic, lawn mower) is considered potentially damaging. If you’ve spent years enjoying riding your Harley or attending rock concerts, there’s the possibility that your hearing has been damaged.
Medication and Medical ConditionsThere are some medications, such as chemotherapy, which can also damage the sensory hairs in your ears. Additionally, certain medical issues like chronic high blood pressure and diabetes can lead to hearing loss.
Key Symptoms of Hearing LossThere are key symptoms - indicators, if you will - that you’re experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Asking People To Repeat ThemselvesIf you find yourself regularly missing parts of conversations and asking people to repeat themselves, you may be experiencing hearing loss. This might be especially prevalent in your conversations with children and women, due to their higher pitched voices.
Difficulty Hearing In Noisy AreasHearing loss often manifests in the form of difficulty hearing in noisy places, such as parties, restaurants, in a car, or in a plane. This problem is accentuated even more when many people are talking at the same time, which can make it difficult for you to focus on a single conversation.
Needing To Turn Up The VolumeIf you find yourself increasingly needing to turn up the volume of the television or music, you may have some degree of hearing loss. Typically, this habit will be pointed out by someone else who is surprised at how loud you have the sound level.
Ringing In The EarsIf you experience tinnitus (ringing in your ears), it can be an indicator of hearing loss. Numerous studies demonstrate a correlation between aging, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
Trouble With Phone ConversationsFor those with hearing loss, talking on the phone can be particularly difficult. The manner in which the phone thins out the voice of the person on the other end makes it very difficult for those with hearing loss to understand everything that’s said.
What’s Next?If you think you may have hearing loss, you should set up an appointment with an audiologist to get your hearing checked. With a simple hearing test, they can quickly determine if your hearing has diminished, as well as recommend next steps. It’s critical that you not wait to get your hearing tested. Hearing loss can significantly affect both you and those around you. The Mayo Clinic noted:
Unfortunately, most people affected by hearing loss live with these difficulties for years before seeking treatment — or never seek treatment at all. 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.Additionally, studies have indicated a correlation between hearing loss and dementia. As the brain tries to adapt to the loss of hearing, it places strain on particular areas of the brain, which can eventually lead to cognitive decline. Finally, there are indications that hearing loss can lead to significant depression. The cumulative effect of these things can lead to increased isolation, difficulty with family members, and decreasing satisfaction with life. Don’t wait to get your hearing checked.