HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE HEARING LOSS?
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than 36 million Americans have some type of hearing problem, and 30-40% percent of people over age 65 have hearing loss. Approximately 90% of those suffering from hearing loss can be helped by the use of hearing aids.
WHAT CAUSES HEARING LOSS?
In the inner ear, there are thousands of hair cells that allow us to hear by detecting different frequencies, stimulating the auditory nerve, and sending sound signals to the brain. In 90% of all hearing loss cases, these hair cells are damaged, meaning that the brain is not receiving all of the sound that it needs to form a complete auditory soundtrack. The damage of those hair cells may result from trauma, disease, noise exposure, aging, or be hereditary in nature.
CAN I LIVE WITH HEARING LOSS?
Hearing loss is particularly problematic because it usually develops gradually. As hearing loss continues unnoticed, eventually sounds that are critical to communication become compromised. Over extended periods of time, the brain will become accustomed to not hearing those sounds, meaning that it will take longer for the brain to understand those sounds again. Many people dismiss or ignore their hearing loss, sometimes for years — this is a bad decision, because putting off the inevitable only makes it more difficult to rectify the problem. Regular hearing aid use helps maintain the brain’s ability to interpret sounds, increases communication, and improves the user’s quality of life.
WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS OF HEARING LOSS?
- What other people are saying can be heard, but not actually understood.
- It sounds like other people are mumbling when they talk.
- Difficulty hearing conversations in group settings.
- Needing to ask someone to repeat what they just said, often more than once.
- Difficulty understanding words and conversations on the telephone.
- Radio/TV are consistently played at extremely high volume, causing complaints by others.
- Constant ringing sound in the ears (tinnitus).