Millions of people in America suffer silently with hearing loss. It is not merely a social hindrance--it is actually bad for your health. Studies show, especially in the elderly, hearing loss that is inadequately treated will contribute to a more rapid decline in cognitive abilities. Therefore, it is very important to recognize and properly treat hearing loss as an important part of our overall goal of wellness.
What are the first signs of hearing loss?
It is often a spouse or other family members who first recognize the signs of hearing loss. The onset may be slow and insidious over a period of years. Eventually patients find themselves having to ask people to repeat themselves or having to turn the TV volume up to a level that other people notice to be too loud.
Communication becomes difficult because words sound jumbled. In fact, patients often lose hearing in the high frequencies before the middle or low frequencies. This can be confusing because many sounds and noises are just as loud for someone with high frequency hearing loss as they would be for a person with normal hearing. However, spoken language includes a lot of consonant sounds that have high frequencies so bits and pieces of each spoken word are just outside the hearing range.
How do we test for hearing loss?
Our licensed audiologist, Mr. Stephen Lamson, will perform your audiometric testing. Our sound booth and testing equipment has been carefully calibrated so that we will know your exact hearing thresholds. We will be able to determine the severity and type of hearing loss for each ear. We perform testing for infants, children, and adults.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the cochlea in the inner ear or in the nerve between the cochlea and the brain stem. Common examples include noise-induced hearing loss and age-related hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss results from an abnormality in the ear canal, the eardrum, or the middle ear. Common examples include otitis media (middle ear infection) and a hole in the eardrum.
- Mixed hearing loss results from some degree of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss
Hearing Loss Treatment
Sensorineural hearing loss is usually treated with hearing aids. There has been tremendous advancement in hearing aid technology, similar to the degree of advancement that we have seen with cell phones in the last 20 years. Hearing aids should now be thought of as sophisticated computers with remarkable programmability. Another important advancement with hearing aids has to do with battery technology. Many models are now available with rechargeable batteries, which will save on long term cost.
Hearing Aid Fitting
Patients with hearing or other ear related symptoms will be scheduled for an office visit that will include audiometric testing by our audiologist. Immediately thereafter, patients will receive a thorough history and physical exam from one of our board-certified ear, nose, and throat physicians. We will review all treatment options for the specific causes of hearing loss, which may include medical treatments, surgical treatments, or hearing aids.
We routinely treat disorders such as earwax impactions, ear infections, eardrum perforations, ringing in the ears, sudden hearing loss, and more.