"What did you say?"
"Huh? I didn't catch that."
"Could you repeat that?"
Does this sound like you lately? If you are approaching 65 or over, there's a good chance these phrases are becoming more and more common to you. You might not have known it, but 1 in 3 people age 65 and older have hearing loss.
That means if it seems like the world is getting quieter, it's time to get it checked!
If you find yourself struggling to hear things, it might cause you to withdraw from conversations, family or friends. Sometimes people feel as if it can be embarrassing, but it doesn't have to be.
If you have a hearing problem and you leave it untreated or unchecked, it will likely get worse. A visit with your doctor can offer a variety of solutions including hearing aids, special training, certain medicines, or surgery (if necessary).
What are the signs of hearing loss?
There are a multitude of signs of hearing problems. Often, you can have a hearing problem and not even notice due to the gradual nature of its growth.
Hearing loss signs can include:
Thinking that others seem to mumble
Turning up television or radio devices loud enough that others complain
Needing to ask people to repeat themselves on a regular basis
Difficulty keeping up with conversations when two or more people are speaking
Having difficulty hearing over the phone
Trouble understanding higher pitched voices such as women and children
What are the types of hearing loss?
There are two main categories of hearing loss: sensorineural and conductive.
Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent. This loss is caused by damage to the auditory nerve or the inner ear.
Conductive hearing loss usually isn't permanent and can be restored by a medical procedure or surgery. It can be caused by earwax build up, fluid or a punctured ear drum. This category of hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear.
(Note: If you experience sudden hearing loss or deafness either immediately or over the course of three days, seek medical attention as soon as possible.)
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) presents itself gradually as a person ages. Often, those experiencing this type of hearing loss don't even notice that they've developed a hearing problem. This type of loss makes it difficult to tolerate loud sounds or hear what others are saying. It is caused by changes to the inner ear and is believed to run in families.
Tinnitus is another common hearing problem. Tinnitus is the formal name of what we refer to as "ringing in the ears." Keep in mind, though, that tinnitus doesn't limit itself to just a ringing sound. It can also present itself as a roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing.
Tinnitus is not technically a form of hearing loss, but it is a symptom of hearing loss. It can also be a sign of other health problems including high blood pressure, allergies or medication side effects.
What causes hearing loss?
There are several factors that can cause hearing loss. The most common causes of hearing loss include:
Loud noises: Exposure to loud sounds such as loud music, weed-eaters and lawnmowers can cause hearing problems. These noises can also cause tinnitus. The best solution is to use ear protection such as earplugs during these situations.
Ear wax or fluid build up: These build ups block sounds from traveling to your inner ear where sound is processed. Over the counter remedies can be used to treat these such as commercial ear drops, but if the problem persists, you should speak with a doctor.
Punctured ear drum: This also affects the sound in your inner ear and is commonly caused by something most of us do frequently: using Q-Tips. Avoid putting Q-Tips into your ear canal as they are only designed for the outer ear (the part you can see). If you have pain or draining from your ear, consult your doctor as soon as you can.
Virus or bacteria: These can also be counted as causes of hearing problems along with heart conditions, stroke, brain injury or tumors.
Heredity: Unfortunately, this form of hearing loss can not be avoided if you are affected by it. Not all cases of hereditary hearing loss occur at birth, and some present themselves later in life.
If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, the most important thing you can do is visit with you doctor. They will be able to diagnose whether or not you are affected and provide the most effective method of treatment.
Sunshine Home Care provides home health in Altus, OK and most of Western Oklahoma. For more information on our agency, visit here or contact us.