Hearing loss can occur at any point during a person’s life. The extent of hearing loss varies widely from person to person and can be triggered by several environmental or biological factors. Hearing loss is also widespread, with about 48 million Americans reporting some degree of hearing loss.
Knowing that hearing loss can occur at any time, many people still struggle to identify their hearing loss. Here at the Hearing Associates of Las Vegas hearing clinic, we have had countless people express surprise at the extent of their hearing loss when tested. Hearing loss is a gradual process in most cases. It can be hard to identify the early signs of hearing loss.
To help recognize hearing loss in yourself or a loved one, we’d like to take a deep dive into the different types of hearing loss, the potential risk factors, and more.
What Is Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is when you cannot hear the full decibel range. Those with intact hearing have a hearing range from 0 to 140 dB. For example, the average human whisper is 25 dB. Hearing damage can start occurring at frequent exposure to 80 dB and above.
Types Of Hearing Loss
Depending on what part of the ear is affected, individuals will experience different types of hearing loss. There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Sound waves cannot be transmitted through the outer and middle ear for those dealing with conductive hearing loss. This disruption in transmission can be due to damaged eardrums, issues with the delicate bones of the middle ear (stapes, hammer, anvil), or other problems in these areas. However, the inner ear works correctly.
This kind of hearing loss is more common in children but can occur in adults. Surgeries, such as eardrum repair or cochlear implants can help overcome some cases of conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Opposite of conductive hearing loss, those dealing with sensorineural hearing loss have suffered damage to their inner ear. Often, this damage is to the sound transmitting hairs in the cochlea. This type of hearing loss is prevalent, as it usually occurs due to excessive and prolonged noise.
While no surgery or medication repairs sensorineural hearing loss, you can bypass much of the damage using hearing aids. By using hearing aids, the sound is amplified so the cochlea can detect and transmit the sounds to the auditory nerve.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is when an individual suffers from both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss at the same time. To overcome this kind of hearing loss, both surgery and hearing devices are typically utilized.
Recognize Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is gradual in most cases. It’s challenging to identify when you’re experiencing hearing loss. You can watch for signs if you’re concerned that you or a loved one is struggling with hearing loss.
- The TV and other media devices are often at or near the max volume.
- You have heightened tinnitus symptoms where the constant sound impacts your quality of life.
- Increased discomfort with social situations due to the inability to catch all of the conversations.
- Experience audio disorientation when in busy areas such as malls, restaurants, or sporting events.
- Difficulty hearing consonants, as well as speech in general, being muffled.
If you suspect you or a loved one may have hearing loss, our hearing experts offer a comprehensive hearing test as one of our many hearing services. Our hearing specialists can pinpoint the extent of your hearing loss and provide treatment options with our hearing evaluation.
Hearing Loss Risk Factors
There is a wide variety of hearing loss risk factors. Some are more common than others, and many are preventable.
- Noise Damage – By far, hearing loss due to damage from excessive noise is the most common risk factor. It’s easy to damage our hearing with loud noises, as the process is gradual. Prolonged exposure to sounds at 80 dB and above can damage the delicate hairs in your cochlea, causing sensorineural hearing loss.
- Cerumen Buildup – It may be surprising, but cerumen (earwax) can build up enough to cause profound hearing loss. For help managing your cerumen, our hearing clinic offers cerumen removal so your ears can be safely cleaned out.
- Ruptured Eardrum – Improper at-home cerumen removal can cause a ruptured eardrum. It can also damage your eardrum with a blast of sound, infection, and pressure changes. When the eardrum is ruptured, you will have conductive hearing loss. Sometimes the eardrum can be repaired or replaced.
- Genetics – There can be a hereditary factor in hearing loss, making you more prone to hearing damage or age-related hearing loss. If hearing loss is a known factor in your family, you should begin hearing evaluations in your 50s. That way, you can catch any hearing loss quickly.
- Ear Infection – Repeated ear infections can leave scarring on your eardrum and pressure issues in the middle ear. Surgery to place tubes in the eardrum can help correct this issue, as can eardrum replacement.
- Medications – Over 200 medications are ototoxic, meaning they can damage your hearing. Sometimes the hearing loss is temporary, such as the hearing loss caused by painkillers like aspirin. However, some chemotherapy drugs can cause permanent hearing loss. If this concerns you, be sure to ask your prescribing physician if the drug is ototoxic.
- Illness – Many illnesses and diseases can affect your hearing, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, meningitis, and other conditions.
Entertainment Leading to Hearing Loss?
Whether you use AirPods, headphones, or something in between, wearable personal speakers can cause serious hearing problems. They’ve become one accessory people will not leave home without. It’s natural to want to crank up the volume when playing a favorite tune, but you leave the door open for injury when you’re listening above the recommended decibel level.
Headphones are only safe when used at or below the recommended listening level. If you like to jam out while exercising or use loud music to drown out the world around you, you’ve likely got your headphones turned up too loud. Regardless of the type of headphones you use, your hearing can be permanently damaged if you do this regularly.
Because of consistent exposure to high levels of sound, hearing loss is often permanent. In the US, roughly 17% of teens deal with some form of hearing loss because of overexposure to noise. Most of the time, that noise is their personal entertainment. Consistent headphones use masks how loud the levels are, which will lead to increases in harmful volume.
Here are some great tips for using AirPods or any other type of headphones:
- Correct Volume– If you can hear someone speaking clearly two or three feet away over your entertainment, your levels are likely safe. If their mouth is moving and you can’t make them out, your headphones are too loud.
- Limit– Determine where 75%-80% of your device’s maximum volume is and make that your limit.
- Limit Exposure– It can be tempting to leave your headphones on all day, but this increases your risk of hearing loss. Limit use to 90 minutes at a time.
- Keep Track of Your Stats- Find a health tracker app, and install it on your phone to track how long and at what levels you are listening throughout the day.
Hearing Loss Treatment At Hearing Associates Of Las Vegas
The Hearing Associates of Las Vegas are ready to take care of your hearing loss needs. Our hearing loss treatment services offered by our hearing instrument specialists include;
- Hearing evaluation – Our hearing specialists can pinpoint your level of hearing loss with their comprehensive hearing evaluation. This in-depth testing allows them to advise you on what will best help you regain your hearing.
- Hearing aids – Since our hearing clinics are entirely independent providers of hearing instruments, we carry a diverse stock of hearing aids for you to try. You can trust that the Hearing Associates of Las Vegas will always recommend the hearing aids which are right for you.
- Aural rehabilitation – For those who experience hearing loss for a long time before receiving hearing aids, it can be tough to readjust to the world of sound around you. Our hearing specialists will help you develop techniques to help you make sense of the sounds around you and assist in improving your communication skills.
- Tinnitus treatment – Those suffering from chronic tinnitus often usually have a certain amount of hearing loss. We have a wide variety of tinnitus treatment and management tools available to help you move beyond your tinnitus.
If you are ready to take control of your hearing or help a loved one receive the best hearing possible, contact us to set an appointment.