The Stigma around Hearing Loss
As reported by the Better Hearing Institute, in 2019 there are at least 48,000,000 Americans with a reported hearing loss. Of those 48 million people, more than 30 MILLION Americans are under the age of 65. Let’s ditch the stigma around hearing loss.
There’s an Elephant in the Room and it’s Your Hearing Loss
There is a serious stigma about hearing loss in our culture. Many people delay their first test or screening because they think they’re too young to have a hearing loss.
As reported by the Better Hearing Institute, in 2019 there are at least 48,000,000 Americans with a reported hearing loss. Of those 48 million people, more than 30 MILLION Americans are under the age of 65.
There are three general classifications of hearing losses. Of the three classifications, there are many conditions ranging from common to uncommon. Let’s talk about how they happen.
Before we dive into the classifications, I want to do some myth busting to clear the elephants!
Myth: Hearing Loss is age related, I am too young for hearing loss.
Fact: Hearing loss can present itself at any age.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that about 15% of Americans 20 years old and 69 years old have a noise induced hearing loss from noise exposure at work or leisurely activities (a quarter of the cases were documented as workplace exposure).
Now that the elephants are out of the room. Let’s dive into the three, starting with the most common classification.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The first classification is known as Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL).
What is a SNHL?
As discussed in the previous post How We Hear, an ear can be divided into three parts: Outer, Middle, and Inner. A SNHL occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (most common) or a problem with the nerve pathways from your inner ear to your brain (less common). This is the most common classification of hearing loss (9/10 hearing losses are classified as a SNHL).
Causes of SNHL:
The two most common causes of SNHL
● Noise Exposure (preventable)
Less common causes:
● Sudden Hearing Loss* usually caused by a virus that attacks the hair cells of the cochlea. Most commonly treated with steroids by an Ears Nose & Throat Doctor (ENT) (If you experience a sudden change in hearing or a hearing loss in one ear see your Hearing Care Provider or ENT immediately! Treatment is time sensitive and should be addressed within the first 24 hours).
*Both of these usually occur in in one ear at at time
● Ototoxicity (some medications are toxic to the ears and vestibular system)
● Acoustic Neuromas/ tumor on the Auditory Nerve which blocks sound to the brain*
SNHL are usually not surgically correctable and the most common treatment is hearing aids.
Conductive Hearing Loss
The Second classification of hearing loss is known as a Conductive Hearing Loss (mechanical hearing loss).
A Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when there is a break down transferring sound waves through the Outer and/or Middle Ear. In this classification, there is something preventing sound through to the cochlea.
This type of loss is often medically or surgically correctable.
Some causes of Conductive hearing loss:
● Ear Wax
● Fluid in the middle ear
● A hole in the eardrum
● Disconnected or fused ossicles
● Ear infections
● Foreign object in the ear
● “Swimmer’s Ear”/External Otitis
● Deformity of the ear
Mixed Hearing Loss
The third classification is known as a Mixed Hearing Loss and is a combination of a SNHL and Conductive Hearing Loss. This type of loss is less common and the treatments vary.
If you notice that you have a hard time hearing out of one or both ears, contact us today to schedule your free screening.