Approximately 37.5 million Americans suffer from hearing loss.
It is estimated that hearing loss affects nearly 1 in 5 people over the age of 12 years in the United States and 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 (1, 2). Untreated hearing loss has been associated with reduced emotional, physical, and social well-being (3). Research also suggests that hearing loss can even be associated with cognitive decline and dementia (2, 4). If you have untreated hearing loss you may have even experienced some side effects of hearing loss such as social isolation, feeling left out of conversations, especially in restaurants or crowds, feeling embarrassed having to ask others to repeat themselves, and communication interruptions causing frustration or decreased ease of conversation.
Signs you may have a hearing loss:
- Difficulty hearing people in noisy environments such as a restaurant, shopping mall, in cars, or at the movie theater (5).
- People seem to “mumble” all the time.
- Family, friends, or colleagues often need to repeat themselves when speaking with you.
- You have trouble hearing people when they are not facing you or are in another room.
- You have trouble following conversations.
- You have ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds in your ears.
What are potential causes of hearing loss?
- Exposure to excessive loud noise (5).
- Ear infections, trauma, or ear disease.
- Damage to the inner ear and ear drum from contact with a foreign object (cotton swabs, bobby pins, etc.).
- Illness or certain medications.
- Deteriorating hearing due family history, noise exposure, or age.
How to protect your hearing:
- Wear hearing protection when around loud sounds. There are different types of hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs and custom hearing protection devices. Contact our office for custom hearing protection devices (5).
- Turn down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones.
- Walk away from the noise.
- And, other than hearing protection, do not put anything in your ear!
What can be done to treat hearing loss?
- Treatment of hearing loss may depend on the type, cause, and severity of hearing loss. A comprehensive audiological assessment will help determine these factors.
- For patients experiencing permanent hearing loss (e.g. hearing loss due to aging, noise exposure), treatment is available using hearing aid technology. For more information on different types or causes of hearing loss, see our patient education page on hearing loss.
- Lin, F. R., Niparko, J. K., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. Archives of Internal Medicine, 171(20).
- Su, P., et al. (2017). Age related hearing loss and dementia: A 10-year national population-based study. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, 247(5), 2327-2334.
- Smith, S. M., & Kampfe, C. M. (1997). Interpersonal relationship implications of hearing loss in persons who are older. Journal of Rehabilitation, 17(2), 15-21.
- Lin, F., et al. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68(2), 214-220.
- American Academy of Audiology (2017). Facts about hearing loss. Retrieved from: https://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/consumer-information/fact-sheets