I am Progressively Losing My Ability to Hear – Why?

This is one of the questions we are asked most often. If you are concerned that you are experiencing some hearing loss, you are not alone, because the hearing of over 22 million Americans has become somewhat impaired, and 10 million of them have suffered hearing loss (which is defined as being unable to hear normal conversations).

As to the possible causes of hearing loss, the most common is aging, known technically as age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis. Over time, the nerves and hair cells of the inner ear become damaged and begin to degenerate, making it more difficult to hear high-pitched sounds such as the sounds of women’s or children’s voices, or to be able to distinguish between consonants like S, T, K, P, and F.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most experienced hearing loss, also known as acoustic trauma. This is caused by a series of exposures to loud noise. Unlike age-related hearing NIHL can be experienced by anyone. This hearing loss can occur from over exposure to loud music or machinery like motorcycles or mowers. Age-related and NIHL are both sensorineural hearing loss that is often irreversible. Fortunately this type of hearing loss can be improved with the use of hearing aids to amplify and refine sound.

Another condition is conductive hearing loss, meaning that something is blocking the passage of sounds from the outer ear to the eardrum, and the most common cause of this is a buildup of ear wax, which can be easily treated and eliminated. Other types of conductive hearing loss may be caused by perforation or scarring of the eardrum, by a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, or by otosclerosis, an abnormal bone formation that causes the inner ear to become less flexible and thus less effective at transmitting and understanding sounds.

Hearing loss can also occur as a result of exposure to certain medications, such as antibiotics and some drugs used to treat cancer, and as a result of infections of the middle ear or ear canal. Disease can also create hearing loss: Meniere’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, acoustic neuroma (non cancerous tumors on the bones of the middle ear), and stroke can all create conditions in the ear where hearing is damaged.

The best advice we can give you if you suspect you are losing your hearing is to make an appointment to have your hearing tested, so that we may advise you as to possible causes of the condition, and how best to treat it. Your hearing loss won’t go away if you ignore it or pretend that it’s not there, and in many cases it can become worse or permanent by ignoring it, so don’t put off consulting a professional hearing specialist.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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