Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, and it can affect the quality of your life and relationships. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20% of Americans, 48 million have some degree of hearing loss. Causes of hearing loss could be natural aging, illness, genetics, some medications, and loud noise. Let’s look at the causes and symptoms of hearing loss in more detail.
Advanced age is the most common cause of hearing loss. One out of three people age 65-74 has some level of hearing loss. After age 75, that goes up to one out of every two people. Researchers don’t fully understand why hearing declines with age, however, it could be that lifetime exposure to noise and other damaging factors slowly wear down the ears’ mechanics. Your genes are also part of the mix.
Noise causes hearing loss as it wears down hearing if it’s loud or continuous. In some workplaces, ares are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day. 44% of carpenters and 48% of plumbers report some hearing loss. Other noisy occupations include the military, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, law enforcement, fire fighting and musicians.
Medications can affect hearing and balance. More than 200 drugs and chemicals are known to trigger hearing and balance problems. Some of these include antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, aspirin, and diuretics.
Illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease put ears at risk by interfering with the ears’ blood supply. Otosclerosis is a bone disease of the middle ear, and Meniere’s disease affects the inner ear, and they both can cause hearing loss.
Trauma, including skull fracture or a punctured eardrum can also cause hearing loss, as well as ear infections or ear wax.
In many cases, hearing loss is so gradual that people don’t notice it. You may think that people are mumbling, your spouse needs to speak louder, and you need a better phone. As long as some sound comes in, you could assume that your hearing is fine.
Hearing loss is classified in the following ways:
- Mild hearing loss – One on one conversations are fine, however, it’s difficult to catch every word when there is background noise.
- Moderate hearing loss – People often need to ask others to repeat themselves during conversations in person and on the phone.
- Severe hearing loss – Following a conversation is almost impossible unless you have hearing aids.
- Profound hearing loss – People can’t hear when others are speaking unless they are extremely loud, and they can’t understand what others are saying without hearing aids.
Other symptoms of a hearing loss include having trouble following a conversation when more than one person is speaking; thinking others are mumbling; misunderstanding what others are saying, especially women and children; get complaints that the TV is too loud; and hear ringing or hissing sounds in your ears.
Most people with a hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, yet only one in five people seek treatment. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact us for a hearing exam. At Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™ we carry all the major brands of hearing aids to meet your needs. Call us today at 772-286-4327 and schedule your FREE consultation with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist.