About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a major public health issue. It is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. Hearing loss affects people of all ages, usually gradual but can be sudden depending on the cause.

Hearing loss ranges from mild, moderate, severe to profound. Hearing loss is often an invisible condition; one cannot easily identify those who suffer from it, and those who are affected often exhibit aloofness, confusion, or personality changes.

The most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging. In age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, changes in the inner ear cause slow but steady hearing loss. The loss is almost always permanent, and there are no known medications or surgical remedies. The good news is that 95% of people with hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids. Others with profound loss may be treated with cochlear implants.

Hearing loss is often confused with dementia because some of the symptoms are strikingly similar. However, it is important for individuals to consider hearing aids as recent studies suggest a possible link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs slowly over time or suddenly, depending on the magnitude of damaging sounds. Exposure to loud sounds such as very loud music or a noisy work environment, can lead to hearing loss over many years. Sudden, noise-induced hearing loss from gunfire or explosions is the number one disability for war veterans.

Tinnitus (or ringing in the ears) often accompanies hearing loss and may be just as debilitating as the hearing loss itself.

Other causes of hearing loss include earwax buildup, an object in the ear, injury to the ear or head, ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, and other conditions that affect the middle or inner ear.The best way to assess your hearing condition and diagnose a possible disease is to consult with a hearing health professional such as an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor, or an Audiologist. You may also contact your primary physician for consultation or referral to a hearing health professional.

For an online assessment of your hearing ability, please click here.

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