Struggling to Join the Conversation?Hearing loss affects at least 40% of American adults over age 65–and more than 50% over age 75.
Hearing ability naturally decreases with age as the delicate “hair” cells that make the inner ear organs wear out with time and trauma. Despite the widespread and debilitating nature of hearing loss, it remains stigmatized in our culture and is left untreated in nearly 80% of adults. Symptoms of hearing loss include:
– Sounds and speech seem muffled
– Asking others to repeat themselves or speak louder and/or slower
– Feeling that others are often angry or frustrated with you
– Needing a loud volume setting on electronic devices (others find it too noisy)
– Words are difficult to make out, especially in the presence of background noise
– Intentional or unintentional withdrawal from conversations and/or social scenarios
– Confusing or trouble making out consonant noises
If you experience any one of these symptoms on a daily basis, testing by a qualified audiologist can determine the extent and nature of your hearing loss, which can be caused, or worsened, by a variety of factors.
Sound Levels of Common Noises
|80 to 90||Heavy city traffic, power lawn mower|
|100||Snowmobile, hand drill|
|110||Chain saw, rock concert|
|140 (pain threshold)||Jet engine at takeoff|
|165||12-guage shotgun blast|
Adapted from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2010, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2013 on mayoclinic.org
Causes of Hearing Loss
Your ears are highly specialized instruments, designed to detect small changes in air pressure known as sound waves. Sound waves are funneled by the outer ear to the eardrum and the middle ear. The waves then activate three small bones in the middle ear–commonly known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup–which vibrate according to the types of sounds passing into the air. Your inner ear, a fluid-filled, snail-shaped structure, known as the cochlea, picks up the vibrations with thousands of tiny hair-like cells. The motion of each and every cell is picked up by an attached nerve cell, allowing all necessary information about the sound to be transferred from the inner ear to the brain at lightning-speed. The brain then makes sense of the sound, including its source, a deduction that is made using information from both ears.
The most common causes of sound muffling and/or damage to your sensitive hearing instruments are:
– Wax buildup
– Prolonged or repeated ear infections
– Ruptured eardrum, most often caused by sudden pressure change, infection, or blast of noise
– Prolonged exposure to sound at loud volumes, causing wear and tear on the tiny hair cells of the cochlea. To the right is an overview of common vs. high decibel sounds.
– Heredity, which could increase your inner ear’s vulnerability to damage, infection, or chronic diseases such as Meniere’s
– Abnormal bone growth or tumors
– Some severe illnesses or prescription medications
Additionally, inner ear damage happens naturally with age; the microscopic hair cells of the inner ear do not regenerate or heal. When you begin hearing muffled sounds and suspect hearing loss, you should take action right away.
Once hearing loss is suspected, help is most commonly sought out through a medical doctor, an audiologist, or a licensed hearing aid dealer (often found through newspaper ads). If a family practitioner or ENT suspects hearing loss (or confirms it through simple tests), he or she will then refer you to an audiologist. Audiologists, which can be seen with or without a doctor’s referral, are the only individuals educated to perform in-depth hearing tests and give you a detailed diagnosis. Licensed hearing aid dealers have some training in hearing testing and fitting hearing aids but hold no degrees in the field.
Hearing Aid Dealer
|Generalized hearing testing (may or may not take place in soundproof environment)||X||X||X|
|Full diagnostic evaluation, including patient history and speech discrimination testing||X|
|All tests completed in soundproof booth||X||X|
Doctor of Audiology Degree
|Vendor-specific sale of hearing aids (Provider often works directly for manufacturer.)||X|
|Vendor-neutral sale of hearing aids (Provider works directly for you.)||X|
|Accepts most major insurance companies, including Medicare||X||X|
Benefits of Commonly Sought Out Hearing Solutions
You can know exactly what’s going on with your hearing: an initial evaluation with Dr. Skipper takes only an hour and includes a thorough hearing examination and a detailed explanation of test results. Schedule an appointment today!One common problem. Many solutions. Learn about testing and diagnosing hearing loss.As an audiologist, Dr. Skipper has the education and experience to correctly diagnose the cause and extent of your hearing loss as well as determine if medicine or surgery can improve your hearing. If medicine or surgery is an option, Dr. Skipper will refer you to a qualified physician. If your loss is determined to be a permanent one, Dr. Skipper will discuss the wide range of devices available to improve your hearing. Having your hearing evaluated by Dr. Skipper before purchasing hearing aids ensures that the hearing solution you invest in will be the best fit for you.
You can know exactly what’s going on with your hearing: an initial evaluation with Dr. Skipper takes only an hour and includes a thorough hearing examination and a detailed explanation of test results. Schedule an appointment today!