Hearing loss can be difficult to detect, because it usually happens over long periods of time. As a result, it can be a lot easier to miss than you might think!
Prevalence of Hearing Loss
In the United States, hearing loss is the third most common medical condition, after heart disease and arthritis. The latest available statistics show that over 10% of the U.S. population reports difficulty hearing. That’s more than 31 million people! And as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, that number promises to increase dramatically.
experience some degree of hearing loss, including one in six Baby Boomers. While hearing loss occurs in any age group, it is most prevalent among people over the age of 65, at a rate of one in three. For people over the age of 75, 50% experience some degree in hearing loss. This number rises to 80% of people over the age of 85. Additionally, an estimated 60% of the US workforce experiences some degree of hearing loss, including 60% of veterans returning from combat zones.
Though hearing loss is common, it is often undertreated. The Hearing Loss Association of America reports that people tend to wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing to the time they decide to seek treatment.
Types & Causes of Hearing Loss
There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Conductive hearing loss affects the outer and middle ear, ear canals, and bones. With conductive hearing loss, sound does not conduct properly from the outer ear through the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss is caused by malformations of or injury to the outer and middle ear, blockage of the middle ear, or congenital disorders.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear and affects the way in which our brains process sound. Inner ear hair cells are responsible for translating sound into neural signals to be delivered to the brain. When these hair cells are damaged, they do not regenerate, which leads to sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is most commonly caused by the natural process of aging (presbycusis) or exposure to loud sounds (noise-induced hearing loss). Other causes may include ototoxic medication or congenital disorders, to name a few.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and may be caused by a number of combined factors.
Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss
As an invisible condition that often occurs gradually, it may difficult at first to recognize hearing loss. From the Hearing Loss Association of America, if you answer “yes” to some of the following, you may have a hearing loss. Do you:
If you recognize some of these signs in your own life, or in a loved one, it is important to seek treatment. The first step is to schedule a hearing test with us at Southwest Hearing Clinic. If a hearing loss is detected, we will work with you to find the treatment to best suit your hearing needs.
The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
While you can’t stop aging—yet—you can treat hearing loss. The good news is that most hearing loss is mild and treatable. There is no reason to tough it out or to be left out when you could easily be getting more out of life.
Treating hearing loss comes with many benefits, such as supporting your brain function, potentially lowering the risk for developing dementia, improving your earning power, and ensuring your personal safety and security.
With the right hearing treatment plan and hearing aid, you’ll be able to turn up the volume on everything. You can stop asking people to repeat themselves. You can turn down the TV so the neighbors on the next block aren’t hearing it, too. With treatment, you’ll be able to stay involved in all the activities you enjoy and live life to its fullest again.