Getting Help with Hearing Loss

Seeking Specialized Care for Hearing Loss

Don’t be one of the many adults suffering from hearing loss who chooses not to seek treatment. Here’s how specialized care can help.

Loss of hearing is one of the most common health conditions facing senior adults. In fact, about 1 in 8 Americans over age 12 have some degree of hearing loss. Generally, hearing loss develops gradually and goes unnoticed at first. The effects of hearing loss can be devastating in that it can cause isolation, difficulty conversing, depression, and other negative emotions. Yet, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association reports that only 20% of adults who could benefit from the use of hearing devices seek treatment. Here’s how a hearing professional could help:

Establish the type of hearing loss.

There are three common types of hearing loss – conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Thorough testing can identify the type of loss one is experiencing. Nerve damage, middle ear infections, noise trauma, or wax occlusion can be determined.

Establish the degree of hearing loss.

The hearing exam can also determine the degree to which one is experiencing hearing impairment. Mild losses begin to interfere with communication in noise and from distances. Greater impact happens as the loss of hearing gets more severe. Those with severe to profound losses find it impossible to communicate without hearing devices.

Recommend appropriate action.

Hearing professionals can assist in navigating one to the appropriate action. Some losses can be treated and recovered. In those cases, a referral to an ear, nose, and throat physician is made. A nerve loss of hearing is best treated with modern hearing devices. The goal is to return one to a more active and engaged lifestyle.

Demonstrate modern technology.

The latest hearing aid technology offers much better enhancement than was available just a few years ago. Noise suppression, directionality, and rechargeable batteries are now common. Wireless features such as external microphones, TV transmitting, and direct input and operation from a cell phone are all available.

Protecting Your Hearing

Whatever your level of hearing, it’s vital to protect your hearing when exposed to strong noise. Workplace noise, household noise, or recreational noise can all cause gradual hearing damage. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, noise levels of 100 decibels can do irreversible damage in 15 to 30 minutes. Vacuum cleaners, chainsaws, lawn mowers, dirt bikes, gunfire, leaf blowers, or rock concerts can all be near or greater than 100 decibels. Over the counter or custom made hearing protection should be worn during such activities.