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My Ability to Hear is Getting Worse – Why is This Happening?

When treating patients, this is one of the questions most often asked of us. If you are concerned that you are experiencing some hearing loss, you are not alone, because the hearing of over 22 million Americans has become somewhat impaired, and 10 million of them have suffered hearing loss (which is defined as being unable to hear normal conversations).

As to the possible causes of hearing loss, the most common is aging, known technically as age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis. Over time, the nerves and hair cells of the inner ear become damaged and begin to degenerate, making it more difficult to hear high-pitched sounds such as the sounds of women’s or children’s voices, or to be able to distinguish between consonants like S, T, K, P, and F.

The next most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), also called acoustic trauma, which is caused by repeated exposure to loud noises. Unlike age-related hearing NIHL can be experienced by anyone. This hearing loss can occur from over exposure to loud music or machinery like motorcycles or mowers. Age-related and NIHL are both sensorineural hearing loss that is often irreversible. Fortunately this type of hearing loss can be improved with the use of hearing aids to amplify and refine sound.

A third type, conductive hearing loss, is reversible and is caused by a blockage in the ear canal preventing sound from reaching the eardrum. Earwax is the likely culprit and can be easily treated. Other types of conductive hearing loss may be caused by perforation or scarring of the eardrum, by a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, or by otosclerosis, an abnormal bone formation that causes the inner ear to become less flexible and thus less effective at transmitting and understanding sounds.

Some medications – such as antibiotics and drugs used to treat cancer – can cause hearing loss, as can infections attacking the ear canal and middle ear. Disease can also create hearing loss: Meniere’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, acoustic neuroma (non cancerous tumors on the bones of the middle ear), and stroke can all create conditions in the ear where hearing is damaged.

The important thing, if you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss, is to make an appointment so that we can test your hearing and determine what the cause of it may be and advise you on how to best treat it. Don’t suffer with hearing loss that gets worse over time; improve your quality of life by consulting a professional today.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at 12:21 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.