Educational information about hearing loss and health.
The Importance of Hearing Health
Your hearing is an integral part of your overall well-being. Your hearing allows you to communicate with the people around you and keeps your brain healthy. Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors, including age, genetics, loud noise exposure, ototoxic medications, head or ear trauma, or earwax impaction. Sometimes hearing loss can be the result of another health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. For this reason, it’s important to visit your primary care physician on a regular basis and have your hearing checked annually if you are over the age of 60.
Hearing and Cognition
Did you know we don’t actually hear with our ears? We “hear” when sound travels through the ears up to the auditory cortex of the brain. In the brain is where sound waves are translated into information. Healthy hearing is a key part of having a healthy and active brain.
When you can’t hear well due to hearing loss, then your brain doesn’t receive certain sound signals. Eventually your brain will forget these sounds. Over time this can lead to feelings of fatigue, forgetfulness, and cognitive decline. It’s important to treat hearing loss at the first signs by wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids will provide your brain with the proper amplification it needs to stay active and healthy.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are a few types of hearing loss that affect people. The three types are sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the cochlea in the inner ear or damage to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. This is the most common type of hearing loss and affects people of all ages. Sensorineural hearing loss can be successfully managed with hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss is when sounds cannot be transmitted, or conducted, from the outer and middle ear to reach the inner ear. This is often due to perforated eardrum, earwax build-up, ear infection, or fluid in the middle ear. This type of hearing loss may require treatment from an ENT or a physician who can prescribe antibiotics or perform surgery if necessary.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive. This can be treated by correcting the conductive portion and managing the sensorineural portion with hearing aids.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss often occurs gradually, over the course of a few years. It can be difficult to recognize the signs of hearing loss if you have become accustomed to not hearing certain sounds. Often times, it is a close friend, family member, or spouse who notices the signs of hearing loss first. If a loved one has suggested you have your hearing examined, you should make an appointment.
Some common signs of hearing loss to look out for include: