Loss of hearing can be sudden or gradual. Severity can range from mild to profound. At birth, the prevalence of significant hearing loss is approximately one in 3,000. By age 70, that number jumps to approximately one in three. There are a variety of factors that cause hearing loss including aging, noise exposure, cerumen (earwax), inherited conditions and, rarely, benign tumors.
Hearing Loss Types
There are two major types of hearing loss:
- Conductive loss
- Linked to disorders of the external and middle ear.
- Sensorineural loss
- Caused by problems in the inner ear, auditory nerve and associated brain structures. Conductive hearing loss can frequently be improved surgically, and many options are available to rehabilitate patients with sensorineural hearing loss.
People with hearing loss may complain of a sense of fullness or pressure in their ears and at times a ringing noise (tinnitus), which should also be carefully evaluated.
Jaw disorders (TMJ) frequently masquerade as ear fullness and pain.
The American Medical Association and the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association recommend routine screening for hearing loss for all patients over the age of 55. The Medicare Act of 2003 provides for coverage of screening testing for hearing loss and balance disorders.
Diagnostic testing is required to assist the physician in determining your treatment options.
Complete audiometry/hearing testing and hearing aid services are available for your hearing loss with certified Master’s and PhD audiologists in our Audiology department. Treatments range from surgery to hearing aids. Though some hearing loss is normal with age, hearing loss that affects your everyday social interactions should be evaluated.