Hearing loss is often associated with aging, but hearing problems affect all ages, and when they go undetected, they affect your success at school or work and in your social life. Michael Jaindl, MD, at South Florida Ear, Nose and Throat in Lehigh Acres, Florida, has extensive experience in diagnosis and treatment of hearing-related disorders. At the first sign of hearing loss, call the office.
There are four types of hearing loss:
This type of hearing loss develops when there’s a problem in the outer or middle ear, including fluid in the middle ear, ear infections, eardrum damage, earwax, damage to the middle ear bones, and birth defects. Conductive hearing loss may be temporary and treatable with surgery or medication.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear or due to auditory nerve damage. This type of hearing loss is often caused by aging, exposure to loud noise, traumatic injury, illness, and some medications. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent, but hearing aids can help.
You have a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Is a type of sensorineural loss that requires immediate attention to give the best chance of hearing recover.
Age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, is caused by wear-and-tear damage to the tiny nerve cells, or hairs, lining the inner ear. These cells convert sound wave vibrations into electrical impulses, which then travel through the auditory nerve to the brain.
Presbycusis develops gradually over the years, so you may not notice the change in hearing at first. One of the earliest symptoms is difficulty hearing high-pitched noises, which can make it easier to hear men than women. Eventually, you also notice that you have a hard time understanding conversations or that people sound like they’re mumbling when they talk.
A hearing screening can be done at any age, even for newborn babies. Older children are often screened with pure tone audiometry, which simply tests how well they hear different sounds.
When children or adults fail a hearing screening, the team at South Florida Ear, Nose and Throat uses one of many possible diagnostic tests to determine the cause and severity of their hearing loss.
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that you wear in or behind your ear. They amplify sound waves so the vibrations are easier for sensory cells to detect.
Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes that identify pitch and loudness. As a result, they can be programmed to amplify specific frequencies of sound or to focus on sounds coming from a certain direction.
Not everyone will benefit from the extra expense of top of the line digital hearing aids. This is something that is discussed with patients when reviewing their hearing tests.
When you notice a change in your hearing, call South Florida Ear, Nose and Throat.