Do you suspect that you or a loved one has hearing loss?
People will often wonder if they have hearing loss because they have greater trouble using the telephone or turning the television volume higher over time. In social settings, people find themselves asking others to repeat themselves or struggling to understand when multiple people are speaking. The only way to be sure that you have hearing loss is to have a hearing test or audiogram. Because hearing loss is often very gradual, many people have significant hearing loss before becoming aware of it and seeking care. What I often see in my office, is a patient that is blissfully ignorant of hearing loss, but who comes in at the insistence of a frustrated spouse or other family members. Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is a form of "static" that becomes apparent when hearing declines and is also a common way hearing loss is discovered.
What causes hearing loss?
It may be as simple as ear wax. Other common conditions include ear infections that cause fluid build-up behind the ear drum, which is more common in children, but can occur in adults. Hearing loss can also be genetic and occur at an early age or earlier in life than expected. Long term noise exposure and degenerative changes from aging also are also common reasons. If you suffer sudden hearing loss of any kind, it is very important that you seek care as soon as possible. This could be the result of the ear infection or drop in bloodflow to the ear and could potentially cause permanent harm if untreated.
How is it treated?
Your doctor can easilty remove wax from your ears. In cases of infection, treating these infections will typically restore hearing to normal. It is important that you protect your ears whenever you are in noisy environments .In most cases, if your hearing has declined with age, hearing aids are very helpful. Many people are emotionally unwillling to seek hearing aids because of social stigma and the association with aging. There have been many advancements in hearing aids that have made them very discreet. Many elderly people that do not seek care for hearing loss may become socially isolated because they are not a part of conversation. Hearing aids can provide significant improvement in quality of life by enabling greater freedom and social interaction with friends and loved ones.