Understanding Hearing Loss

The Causes

Often when a hearing loss is discovered, patients want to know how it came to be.  Although there is no way to pinpoint precisely what caused the hearing loss, there are a few main causes. With the patient history and the hearing exam, the Audiologist is better equipped at understanding the factors that may have lead to the hearing condition. 

Age related Hearing Loss: As the hearing system ages, some sounds become less crisp, sharp and certain.  This is caused by the reduction or damage to the hair cells found in the inner ear.  The timeline of when this occurs is variable in each person.  Some people may start to notice a decrease in those precious sounds as early as their 40s, whereas others may not note that decrease in clarity until well in their 80s.  As we start to take a more proactive approach to our health, hearing loss is being identified at a much earlier stage in life.  The stigma of the past was that hearing devices were for old people.  This is no longer true.  A hearing device can help aid in that extra edge that the patient may be missing out on.

Noise-induced Hearing Loss: This can be caused by a single noise impacting the ear or prolonged noise impacting the ear.  Loud noises such as gun fire, lawnmowers, hair dryers, and even mp3/ipods can cause this type of damage.  It is possible to avoid a noise induced hearing loss by wearing hearing protection consistently around those types of loud noise exposures. 



How can I tell if a noise is too loud or can damage my hearing? 

Everyone differs in their level of tolerance to loud sounds.  A good rule of thumb is if you are at arms distance away from the listener and have to shout to be heard the noise level is too high.  If noise is hurting your ears you may experience some ringing/tinnitus, or you may have a temporary loss of hearing.  If this does occur you should consult your Audiologist.