Hearing Loss

The World Health Organization reported that over 5% of the world’s population (328 million adults and 32 million children) has disabling hearing loss. It was reported that over 20% of Americans have haring loss in at least one ear. Hearing loss can affect anyone at any age, and affects many individuals who are well under the retirement age.

Normal hearing can be described as having hearing thresholds of 25dB or better in both ears. A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal is said to have hearing loss. When describing hearing loss, we generally look at three categories:

  • Type of hearing loss

    • Sensorineural
      • This is permanent hearing loss, caused when the tiny hair cells in the cochlea are damaged or missing.  In most cases, the only solution for this type of hearing loss is to be fit with hearing aids.
    • Conductive
      • This type of hearing loss is due to problems in the outer or middle ear.  Common examples include wax, fluid in the ear, eardrum perforation, or damage to the middle ear bones.  Conductive hearing loss is often treatable through medication and/or surgery. After treatment, hearing may improve.
    • Mixed
      • This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and is usually treated with hearing aids and will often be treated medically by the ENT physician, followed by the use of hearing aids.
  • Degree of hearing loss

    • Mild
    • Moderate
    • Moderately-severe
    • Severe
    • Profound
  • Configuration of hearing loss

    • Which is based on the audiogram

With children, it is especially important to diagnose and treat a hearing loss as early as possible. This limits its potential impact on learning and Speech-Language development. Hearing loss can greatly affect the quality of life for adults as well. Unmanaged hearing loss can have an impact on employment, education, memory/cognition, and general well-being.

Some of the most common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Noise Exposure
  • Family History
  • Medications
  • The Aging Process (Presbycusis)