Did you know that hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in the US? Approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Aging, noise exposure, medical conditions, and genetics all play a role in hearing loss.
Of individuals with hearing loss, only 20 percent seek treatment. Unfortunately for the majority of individuals with hearing loss, research has shown that untreated hearing loss is linked to fatigue, isolation, and a greater risk of cognitive decline.
Preventing hearing loss can be as simple as knowing when to wear hearing protection. Our audiologists are equipped with a variety of hearing protection options whether your noisy interests are concerts, hunting, riding your motorcycle, music, or sporting events. Keep your body and mind healthy. Schedule an appointment with Professional Hearing Services today. We are here to help you and your loved ones reconnect through better hearing.
The signs of hearing loss can often go unnoticed for a number of years because hearing loss progresses slowly in most cases. Hearing loss is commonly recognized by family and friends, before you notice you are having difficulty hearing.
Evaluation of your hearing by an audiologist is important to determine if a hearing loss exists. The audiologist will determine the type and degree of hearing loss and identify if there are medical concerns that require an evaluation by ENT physician.
There are three types of hearing loss including: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. Your audiologist will determine the type of hearing loss based upon your hearing evaluation results.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It occurs when inner ear hair cells or the auditory nerve are damaged. This damage causes a poor transmission of sound signals to the brain. The most common treatment for a sensorineural hearing loss is the use of hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss is the result of medical issues that affect the outer and/or middle ear. All conductive hearing losses should be evaluated by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician to determine the cause of loss. Conductive hearing losses can often be treated medically or surgically. If medical treatment is not an option, traditional or bone conduction hearing aids may be considered to improve hearing.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Mixed hearing losses should be evaluated by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician to determine the cause of the loss. Treatment course options will be determined by the physician.
Results of the audiometric evaluation are plotted on a chart called an audiogram. Loudness is plotted from top to bottom. Frequency, from low to high, is plotted from left to right. Hearing loss (HL) is measured in decibels (dB) and is described in general categories. Hearing loss is not measured in percentages. The general hearing loss categories used by most hearing professionals are as follows:
Mild hearing loss: Patients with mild hearing loss may experience trouble hearing soft sounds, increased difficulty in background noise, and struggle to hear things from a distance.
Moderate hearing loss: Patients with moderate degrees of hearing loss may feel like people are mumbling, frequently misunderstand words, and feel that hearing in background noise is extremely difficult.
Severe hearing loss: Patients with severe degrees of hearing loss are frequently not able to folow a conversation without requesting people to speak up or repeat. Typlically environmental sounds like leaves rustling, turn signals, and birds are not heard.
Profound hearing loss: Most sounds of the world are not heard. Loud sound such as fire alrms, telephone rings, and traffic are not heard. Speech is not audible unless someone is shouting. www.starkey.com/hearing-loss-simulator (requested information from Starkey on use of this tool)
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a permanent hearing impairment. NIHL may be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. Excessive noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to noise exposure related to occupational or leisure activities. Some of the common occupational and leisure activities that can cause NIHL are: truck drivers, construction and factory workers, military, police officers, musicians, and hunters.
Noise induced hearing loss is the only type of the hearing loss that is preventable. There are many options for preventing NIHL including ear plugs, ear muffs, and custom hearing protection. Doubling up on hearing protection is often recommended. Times when you should wear double hearing protection are at a shooting range or when the noise reduction of the device does not decrease the intensity or volume to a safe listening level. It is important to understand the intensity of the noise that you are exposed to, so the proper hearing protection can be selected.
Do I have hearing loss?
Ten Ways To Recognize Hearing Loss Questionaire
Please circle the response that applies to you
Answering "Yes" to three or more questions strongly suggests that a hearing evaluation is warranted.
Contact an audiologist at Professional Hearing Services at 262-549-5150, with locations in Waukesha, New Berlin, and Mukwonago. You can also visit us at www.professionalhearingservices.com.
Patients Survey taken from www.nidcd.nih.gov.
Tinnitus is a ringing, roaring, chirping, hissing, or other type of noise that seems to originate in the ear or the head. This is a common problem that affects 1 in 5 people. In many cases, it is not a serious problem, but rather a nuisance that eventually resolves. In some cases, the tinnitus can persist and even change over time. Rarely does tinnitus represent a serious health condition; however, it should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist and audiologist.
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition. Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from this disorder. In almost all cases, only the patient can hear the noise.
Tinnitus can arise in any of the following areas: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, or by abnormalities in the brain. Tinnitus can be caused by ear wax, a foreign body in the canal, or anything that blocks the ear canal. Fluid, infection or diseases of the middle ear bones or ear drum can also cause tinnitus.
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is hearing loss or damage to the inner ear. Today, exposure to loud noise is a very common cause of tinnitus and often damages hearing as well.
Some medications (for example, aspirin) and other diseases of the inner ear (Meniere’s disease) can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus can in very rare situations be a symptom of a brain aneurysm or a tumor (Acoustic neuroma). Tinnitus has also been associated with TMJ, sleep disorders, head and neck injury, heart disease and anxiety.
The otolaryngologist will take a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination of your ears. It is helpful to discuss with your physician the tinnitus as well as other symptoms such as fullness, hearing loss, dizziness, or other ear symptoms. In addition, provide the doctor with a description of the tinnitus, onset of the symptom, and medications you are taking. Routinely a hearing evaluation will be ordered by the physician to determine if there is hearing loss. The hearing test should be performed by an audiologist in sound booth. In some cases, additional testing may need to be ordered to further evaluate the auditory system.
Treatment options include:
Once you find the right sound, it is recommended that you adjust the volume to below the level to completely cover the tinnitus. Make sure the level is less than 50% of the volume setting in your device to protect your ears from potentially damaging “loud” sounds. Gradually over time, you should be able to decrease the volume of the masker and still manage the tinnitus.
A sudden loss in hearing is a medical emergency. Individuals who experience a sudden hearing loss should seek medical attention immediately. Delay in treatment of a sudden hearing loss can greatly impact the effectiveness of treatment options.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a rapid change in hearing, typically in one ear occurring at once or over a couple of days. Often times, patients describe associated symptoms of ringing, fullness, and/or dizziness in the ear.
Diagnosis of a sudden hearing loss follows a comprehensive exam of the affected ear by an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) and completion of a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Additional testing may follow to localize the cause of the sudden hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about 10-15% of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have an identifiable cause. Some of the possible causes are infection, trauma, autoimmune diseases, ototoxic medications, circulation problems, tumor, neurologic diseases, and Meniere's disease.
The most common treatment option for sudden sensorineural hearing loss is use of corticosteroids in either pill form or by direct injection into the middle ear. Treatment options will be determined by the otolaryngologist based on the exam and hearing test results.
If you are experiencing a sudden loss in hearing, contact your physician immediately.
A sudden sensation of dizziness can be alarming. Dizziness is a general term used to describe spinning, light headedness, off balance, or falling to name a few. Rest assured that in most cases this is not a sign of a serious health condition. You are not alone; dizziness impacts 20-30% of the population at some times in their lives.
The balance system utilizes information from vision, proprioception, vestibular system, muscles, joints, and the central nervous system. Sometimes signals conflict and it is up to your brain to decide what is true. An example of this is when you are stopped on a train but the train next to you is moving. Your eyes send signals that you are moving but your ear and body signal that you are still. Your brain must pick which is true and this is how your balance is maintained.
Do not ignore your symptoms. Schedule an appointment to talk with your healthcare provider. Keep a record of the dates of attacks, if the attacks were prompted by an event, duration of attack, and any other symptoms or concerns.
These are just some of the reasons that vertigo and dizziness occur. It is important to work with your physician to determine the cause of your dizziness.
Hearing loss is a medical condition that affects people of all ages. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition in older Americans behind hypertension and arthritis. Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors including: age related changes, noise, genetics, medications, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions. Understanding what places you at risk for hearing loss can help you prevent some causes of hearing loss.
Imagine that you are not able to hear the sound/s/ in the word sat. Would you be able to distinguish the difference between the word sat, fat, bat and rat? If you were relying on hearing alone, it would be difficult to discriminate the /s/ sound. In order to understand what was said you would have to fill in the gaps by utilizing lip-reading cues, context and previous experiences.
Have you ever asked yourself why can I hear speech but not understand it? Difficulty understanding can be caused by the inability to hear the sounds of speech or a lack of clarity in the auditory system.
Hearing loss is evaluated in two ways. Testing is performed to determine the softest sound that you can hear as well as your ability to understand speech. The sensitivity to sound is assessed through your responses to beeps in the sound booth. The clarity of hearing is evaluated by having you respond to speech in quiet. After both have been evaluated, the audiologist will review the results with you and explain why you may be having trouble understanding words.
If your troubles are due to a loss of sensitivity to sound, a hearing device may be recommended to recover the sounds that you have been missing. A hearing device will increase the volume of the missing sounds with respect to the degree of hearing loss. Amplifying the sound will help improve understanding by allowing you to hear the missing pieces.
If your difficulties are due to reduced sensitivity and lack of clarity, a hearing device may be recommended. Hearing devices can recover the missing sounds but cannot clarify a distorted system. Realistic expectations regarding the limitations of the technology will be discussed. Coping strategies will need to be utilized to reduce background noise, improve communication and optimize listening. In some instances when discrimination has deteriorated substantially, benefit from hearing devices may not be possible and cochlear implants may be recommended.
If you have questions regarding your hearing difficulties and are interested in finding a solution to improve your quality of life and decrease listening effort, consider having your hearing evaluated.