Hearing loss is a health issue that affects more than half the people in the United States older than 75. It can affect one ear or both ears and often hinders conventional tasks like communicating, socializing, watching TV, or driving.
Hearing loss can range from mild to severe and is often caused by constant exposure to loud noise, aging, diseases, or genetic variations. According to the World Health Organization, over 430 million people need some kind of rehabilitation for this health issue.
Despite the growing number of people affected by hearing loss, it is often dismissed or not appropriately treated. Improper treatment can impact many areas of a person’s life. Not only is one’s physical health impacted by a lack of treatment, but essential communicative and cognitive functions are negatively impacted as well.
At Advanced Audiology Care in Old Bridge, New Jersey, we understand the importance of discussing the multiple effects of hearing loss on a person’s quality of life.
We hope this information will help you consider seeking proper treatment if you or your family member have a hearing issue. We also hope this information helps you prevent hearing loss.
Hearing loss occurs when the nerve cells or hairs inside your ears become damaged, causing them to send incomplete electrical signals to the brain. Although this often occurs along the natural process of aging, other factors could also cause
hearing-related problems among people, such as:
- Constant exposure to loud noises: Noisy environments like concerts, construction sites, and airports, or habits like wearing headphones for too long could potentially cause hearing loss.
- Genetic factors: A family history of hearing loss could increase the chances of developing it.
- Medical conditions: People with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart conditions are at higher risk of developing hearing loss.
- Trauma: Injuries to the head could cause the hearing nerve cells to become damaged.
- Ear infections: Some infections could cause the eardrum to rupture, causing hearing damage.
Hearing loss can significantly affect someone’s ability to communicate with others. When the nerve cells become damaged and can’t send sound signals properly, it can become challenging to understand speech. As hearing loss progresses, distinguishing different sounds from words in a conversation can turn into a frustrating process.
Hearing impairment can often lead to confusion and make participating in social activities with friends or family challenging. People affected by this condition could end up isolating themselves to avoid the amount of stress caused by not being able to follow conversations.
Withdrawing from interactions can hinder their ability to engage and follow social cues, causing a tremendous emotional impact on their quality of life. As a result, feelings of anxiety or depression may arise, exacerbating the need to isolate from people.
Hearing loss has been associated with multiple negative effects on cognitive function, including memory, attention span, and problem-solving. The ability to understand and remember information becomes damaged with hearing difficulties. This can lead to a decline in the capacity to engage in daily activities like remembering what chores to do, driving, or walking.
Also, research shows that people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia. Studies explain that damage to the nerve cells in charge of sending sound information may lead to severe brain damage. Also, the amount of effort involved in filling in the gaps when having a conversation with untreated hearing loss causes a strain on one’s memory systems and brain age.
The effects of hearing loss can also have multiple physical implications. The system located in the inner ear is in charge of maintaining balance and spatial orientation. When hearing becomes damaged, the brain’s ability to understand its surroundings decreases, leading to a significant risk of injuries.
This could potentially become a dangerous situation for age-related hearing loss cases since older adults can become seriously ill from a fall.
Hearing impairment can also cause significant fatigue and stress since the brain constantly focuses on gathering information from its surroundings. The energy used to maintain communication with others may decrease the enthusiasm for the time spent with loved ones or leisure activities. Additionally, the stress caused by this situation could harm general well-being and self-esteem.
Treatment options for hearing loss range from hearing aids, cochlear implants to assistive listening devices. Choosing the right type depends on your case and your hearing specialist's advice.
Hearing aids amplify the sound vibrations that enter the ear, allowing the hair cells to pick up the amplified vibrations and convert them into electrical signals that can be transmitted to the brain. The amount of amplification required for a hearing aid increases with the severity of your hearing loss.
There are three basic types of hearing aids:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE): This type of hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and sits behind the ear.
- In-the-ear (ITE): This type of hearing aid has two styles, one that fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear (full shell) and one that fills only the lower part (half shell).
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC): Similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid, a receiver-in-canal has a speaker or receiver near the ear canal. However, this type of hearing aid uses a small wire instead of tubing.
For people whose hearing loss case is more severe, cochlear implants may be the ideal treatment. These are surgically implanted into the inside of the ear and stimulate the nerves that have become damaged.
Cochlear implants can significantly improve sound processing but involve a surgical procedure that may not be suitable for all patients.
Assistive listening devices
Personal amplifiers or digital assistive listening devices can be used along with cochlear implants or hearing aids. These devices aim to amplify focused sounds directly into the ear.
They are especially beneficial for mild to moderate hearing loss cases and for patients who want to improve their communication skills in noisy environments like bars or sports events.
It’s important to note that although these treatments can effectively improve one’s hearing ability, inner ear damage is often not reversible. We suggest preventing hearing damage as much as possible. This can be achieved by:
- Wearing ear protection in loud environments like concerts, airports, sports events, or work construction sites.
- Avoiding loud noise exposure, such as trying not to wear headphones with high volume for extended periods.
- Getting regular hearing screenings can help you understand the health of your ear and diagnose any hearing health concerns early on.
Advanced Audiology Care provides hearing tests using state-of-the-art equipment paired with noise-canceling headphones to obtain accurate results. Our comprehensive hearing evaluations include tympanometry, pure tone, bone conduction testing, and speech recognition testing to assess auditory function accurately.
Reach out to us to request an in-office comprehensive hearing evaluation and consultation.
If you need a hearing aid, contact Advanced Audiology Care at (848) 257-5521 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fan for a hearing evaluation. You may also request an appointment online.