Hearing Loss & Tinnitus



Hearing Loss & Tinnitus


Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is defined as a loss in hearing in one or both ears above 20 decibels (dB). Decibels are internationally recognized measurements of sound used across industries.

Prevalence

Hearing loss is likely much more common than one may expect. In fact, hearing loss is the third most common physical health concern for American adults. Approximately 48 million adults in the United States are living with some degree of hearing impairment. Worldwide, it is estimated that a whopping 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss, and this number is only set to increase. According to the World Health Organization, this number is set to grow to a staggering 900 million by 2050 (http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss).

While hearing loss continues to effect older adults more commonly, it is estimated that 15% of school aged children also suffer hearing loss in at least one ear.

Symptoms

Some of the most common signs of hearing loss are complaints from family and friends regarding you not listening or your TV volume, frustration during conversations – especially with multiple people or in noisy environments, and the feeling of hearing, but not understanding. For a more robust overview of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss, visit our dedicated page here.

Types

There are three main types of hearing loss – conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.

Sensorineural

is by far the most common and involves damage to the delicate nerve cells located within our inner ear.

Conductive

hearing loss is more physical in nature – meaning it is due to material damage to the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear and its tiny bones.

Mixed

hearing loss is any combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss in one person.

Causes



Presbycusis


– or age related hearing loss continues to be one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Presbycusis happens due to the natural aging process and occurs over a prolonged period of time, typically in both ears. This can make age related hearing loss very difficult to detect.


Noise


Hearing loss caused by noise is called noise induced hearing loss, or NIHL. NIHL is completely preventable but once it occurs, it is almost always permanent. NIHL can occur in one instance of extremely loud noise – for example firing a shotgun without hearing protection, being near an airbag deployment, or just exposure to excess noises over a prolonged period of time. NIHL is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in people under the age of 65.


Diseases, Infection or Trauma


While less common, certain diseases, such as Meniere’s Disease, measles, mumps and meningitis have been known to cause hearing loss in some people. Trauma to the inner ear can also cause permanent hearing loss, for example in the form of a severe head injury during sports or an accident.


Medications


Many common medicines have also been linked to hearing loss. These medications are termed ototoxic – meaning they can cause hearing loss. Some of the most common ototoxic drugs include antibiotics, over-the-counter pain meds, and cancer treatment therapies.

Treatments

Treatment options vary depending on the type of hearing loss present. For conductive hearing loss, surgery to correct the damage or surgically implanted hearing amplification devices may be options. Hearing aids are also used to treat this type of loss.

For most people with sensorineural hearing loss, treatment with hearing aids remains the most appropriate and effective intervention. Today’s hearing aids are power-packed with incredible features to help make your listening – and your life – much easier and more enjoyable.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is defined as the perception of ringing, buzzing, or noise in one or both ears. Tinnitus can be temporary or permanent.

Prevalence

According to the most recently available CDC data, 67% of respondents reported experiencing regular tinnitus symptoms over the course of the year. Of those that experienced symptoms, 30% classified their condition as “moderate” to a “very big” problem in their lives. (https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts/demographics).

Symptoms

Tinnitus sounds different from person to person and can be perceived as a ringing, buzzing, clicking, roaring or hissing and can also vary in volume and prevalence. For some people tinnitus is a soft hum, while for others it is a deafening squeal.

While obnoxious, tinnitus is not actually a condition – it is rather a symptom of a larger underlying condition. Most people with tinnitus are suffering some degree of hearing loss, however, tinnitus can also be a symptom of an ear injury or circulatory issue.

Types

There are two types of tinnitus – subjective and objective.

Subjective tinnitus

is ringing or buzzing that is only just perceived. It is by far the most common, effecting 90% of people with tinnitus. It cannot be heard by anyone but the individual suffering from it.

Objective tinnitus

is much more rare. A specialist can hear this type of tinnitus during an examination. Objective tinnitus is typically caused by a circulatory or blood vessel problem.

Treatments

The first attempt to treat tinnitus is always to try to identify the underlying cause of tinnitus and treat that issue. Sometimes, tinnitus symptoms can be relieved through earwax removal, changing medication or treating a blood vessel issue. Most often, however, tinnitus treatment goes hand-in-hand with hearing aid treatment. Today’s hearing aids are power-packed with incredible tinnitus management features that include white noise to help make tinnitus less noticeable.