Hearing Loss Symptoms
Hearing loss can manifest itself in many different ways. Sudden hearing loss can be from simple issues such as wax occlusion or from more serious conditions such as sudden hearing loss syndrome. Most hearing loss progresses at a very gradual rate. Many people won’t realize they have hearing loss until a friend or family member makes a comment about their hearing. Some people have a lot of demands placed on their hearing and as such are “tuned in” to any minor changes in hearing.
If you feel that your hearing may have been reduced or a friend or family member has noticed the hearing loss, it should be evaluated right away. Any sudden hearing loss can be from an inflammatory reaction in the inner ear and this should be evaluated promptly. This type of hearing loss is potentially reversible if treated within a few weeks of the onset.
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What Causes Hearing Loss?
The two most significant factors in hearing loss are aging and exposure to loud noises. It is very common to experience gradual hearing loss as you age. In fact, almost half the population over the age of 50 years old experience some degree of hearing loss. When we are chronically exposed to loud sounds we gradually damage our hearing organ (cochlea), causing hearing loss and difficulties in understanding speech. Other risk factors for loss of hearing include:
- Trauma to the ear/head
- Genetic conditions
Unfortunately, most types of hearing loss cannot be reversed. Luckily there are options to improve your hearing with hearing instruments. Dr. Slaughter will conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause and extent of your hearing loss before offering treatment options.
Risk factors for hearing loss
The risk factors for loss of hearing include:
- Reduced overall health
- Strained relationships
- Withdrawal from relationships and social situations
- And an association with dementia
What are the three types of hearing loss?
Often times you hear people speak about hearing loss and you find yourself wondering what are the different types of hearing loss, as you may be experiencing some symptoms yourself and you’re concerned about your health. The different types of hearing loss are as followed:
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL)
This type of hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem such as wax in the canal, a ruptured eardrum, fluid behind the eardrum, or broken middle ear bones. Many times medical or procedural therapies can correct this type of loss.
The symptoms are dependent on the degree and cause of hearing loss. Treatment for this type of hearing loss can be antibiotics, steroids, or surgery to patch a hole in the eardrum or bones behind the eardrum. In some cases, the choice of treatment would be hearing instruments.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
This condition often manifests as the individual frequently says “what”. SNHL makes it difficult to hear in a variety of situations. This type of hearing loss occurs in the inner ear (cochlea) and may be permanent if not treated early enough. It may be related to genetics, inner ear diseases, viral inflammation, noise exposure, or other causes. Some people refer to this as “nerve hearing loss”. Under some circumstances, steroid treatment behind the eardrum will improve hearing. In the majority of situations, the choice of treatment is hearing aid use.
There are 3 types of sensorineural hearing loss:
- Presbycusis is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most individuals as they grow older. Hearing loss is a common disorder associated with aging. Treatment options like hearing instruments can help you live a high quality of life with hearing loss
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is usually caused by exposure to excessive noise. In most cases, NIHL is treated with hearing instruments
- Sudden hearing loss syndrome (SHLS) is an inflammation of the hearing organ (cochlea) from a viral or bacterial infection. It causes a significant hearing loss that can be permanent if not addressed within the first few weeks. It can or cannot be associated with dizziness or vertigo depending on whether the labyrinth (balance organ in the inner ear) is involved. These patients can benefit from Transtypmanic DexamethasoneTherapy (TTDT).
Mixed Hearing Loss (MHL)
This type of hearing loss is a mixture of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. It is part mechanical and part sensorineural in nature. Symptoms again will be based on the degree of hearing loss, although difficulty hearing in a variety of situations is the most common symptom. Many times we can correct this type of loss with medical or surgical therapy, or with hearing instruments.
How do you diagnose hearing loss?
A comprehensive hearing test will determine how much hearing loss there might be and what part of the ear is involved in the hearing loss. The hearing test will determine speech understanding, inner ear function, and middle ear function.
Hearing Loss treatment options
- Steroid treatment behind the eardrum
- Communication strategies to better communicate
- Hearing aid use
In most cases, the use of communication strategies and hearing aid use provide the best benefit.
When do I see a doctor?
If this is the first time you are pursuing a hearing impairment then you should be evaluated by an ENT physician to help rule out any contributing medical issues. You should also consider seeing a physician if you are experiencing any drainage from the ear or dizziness.
How to prevent hearing loss
The only truly preventable hearing loss is due to noise exposure. If you’re going to be around loud noises, in order to protect your hearing, wear good hearing protection. It is important the protection is used correctly to obtain maximum benefit.
Schedule a Consultation
Our office provides the convenience of having Dr. Slaughter perform a thorough medical evaluation of your ears. Also, Bill Boggess, our audiologist, has state-of-the-art equipment for hearing testing and hearing aid evaluation. If you are suffering from hearing loss call (512) 601-0303 to schedule a consultation at our office in Austin, TX.