Hearing loss can be either gradual or sudden.
Sudden hearing loss can happen in one or both ears. People will get it from a loud bang while watching fireworks, or it could be viral – something a little more serious. For these, we’ll usually send you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor or have you go back to your doctor to make a referral to check out what’s going on in your auditory system and brain.
Gradual hearing loss is a little bit more common. We get people who might think their hearing loss is sudden, but it’s been gradual – only they’ve never had a previous hearing test to measure it against. Some people have a hearing loss that starts very early in life and others find it starts much later in life.
How Common Is Hearing Loss?
About 25% of people between the ages of 65 to 74 have a disabling hearing loss and 50% of people over 75, making it very common for the older generations.
Everyone is different when it comes to assessing the type and level of hearing loss. Your hearing generally starts out normal during a hearing test, and then as the frequencies get higher, it starts showing how much hearing loss is in one or both ears.
What Are The Different Types Of Hearing Loss?
A hearing loss can be described in levels: mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, or profound. Hearing loss is also described in types – the main three being:
Conductive hearing loss is when sound waves are obstructed from reaching the inner ear, causing you to hear sounds that are muffled or unclear. Sometimes we find that the hearing loss is because there’s a blockage in your ear canal, such as earwax. At other times, there is an issue with the eardrum.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the bones or nerves behind your eardrum — in the middle or inner ear — are damaged or degenerating.
Mixed hearing loss is when you have both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
What Are The Initial Signs Of Hearing Loss?
The first signs of a hearing loss are little things such as asking people to repeat themselves, turning the volume up on the TV, radio, or playing your music louder than normal, and withdrawal.
People withdraw first because they can tell people are getting frustrated by repeating themselves two or three times.
They will just stop asking questions and back off, sit off in a corner, and not talk because they can’t really hear anybody. They are frustrated and they don’t want to frustrate anyone else.
If you see any of these three major things in a loved one, it’s time to make that call.
Are There Any Sensations Associated With Hearing Loss?
There’s usually no physical feeling associated with a hearing loss, although sometimes a sudden hearing loss will be accompanied by pain. If you’re experiencing pain or anything else unusual or uncomfortable, that’s probably an indicator of something a little bit more serious.
You should definitely come in for a look, and then we can refer back to the doctor with a copy of the hearing test. In Ontario, the doctor has to refer you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. You can’t just call in yourself.
But if you’re in significant pain, go to your emergency room. Don’t wait on it.
As for general hearing loss, there’s not really any pain. Sometimes you will hear ringing and think it’s tinnitus, but it’s not actually tinnitus. It’s a sign of hearing loss that you should have checked.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
The common causes of a hearing loss are aging, noise exposure, and high volume settings on tech devices.
- Aging is the primary reason for a hearing loss.
- Noise exposure is a big one, especially for younger people. A big cause of this is making the volume too loud on noise-cancelling headphones, earbuds, or headphones.
Some new smartphones will actually give you alerts if the volume is too loud, but most young people turn those alerts off, like my own children.
Is Hearing Loss Hereditary?
Hearing loss is not always hereditary, but it can be. It’s not predetermined. Just because your parents both had it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to have it, but there’s a chance.
Can Hearing Loss Affect People At Any Age?
Yes, hearing loss affects people at any age. We see local people of all ages with a hearing loss, from children up to seniors. Obviously, it’s more prevalent in seniors, but we’ve been seeing younger people over the last few years because of poor headphone and earbud use. It’s starting the process a lot earlier than it used to.
Do You Suspect A Loved One Has A Hearing Loss?
Do things like making sure you’re facing them when you talk to them. Try not to get frustrated when they ask you to repeat what you’ve said. Have patience and work with them.
Book at the location nearest you in Kitchener, Guelph, Simcoe, or Waterloo. And come with them for the hearing assessment, both for moral support and so you can give us an accurate picture of how the hearing loss is affecting everyone.
We’re here to help maximize hearing health and great communication, and the sooner a hearing loss is diagnosed and treated, the happier everyone becomes.