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Hearing Loss

Hearing loss occurs in all age groups but commonly occurs naturally with the aging process or as a result of injury or infection. Over the years, technology has also contributed to the loss of hearing with the abundance of loud sources of noise such as headphones and ear buds. Hearing loss has affected over 40 million Americans and can have a direct impact on your life and relationships.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

  • Muffled noises
  • Inability to understand or participate in conversation
  • Frequently turning volume higher
  • Hear ringing or buzzing in ears, also known as Tinnitus
  • Difficulty hearing or focusing on conversation in noisy environments
  • Social isolation in elderly patients

How Bad Is My Hearing Loss?

In order to better organize the degree of hearing loss doctors normally classify hearing loss by the following 4 degrees:

Mild hearing loss: One-on-one conversations are fine, but it’s hard to catch every word when there’s background noise.

Moderate hearing loss: You often need to ask people to repeat themselves during conversations in person and on the phone.

Severe hearing loss: Following a conversation is almost impossible unless you have a hearing aid.

Profound hearing loss: You can’t hear when other people speaking, unless they are extremely loud. You can’t understand what they’re saying without a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

The cause of hearing loss varies greatly depending on age and other physical factors such as genetics.  The most common cause of hearing loss is age but other factors such as medication, exposure to loud noises, infection and genetics all play a role.  Here are some of the most common causes of hearing loss:

Age. As humans age our finely tuned sensory “hair cells” of the cochlea, the organ of hearing in the inner ear, become damaged and less effective. Initially, humans typically lose high frequency hearing first and may progress to hearing loss across many sound frequencies. Some patients with genetic predisposition may face hearing loss at an earlier stage than others.

Ear Damage. The cells of our ear canal secrete a thick substance known as cerumen or wax to help filter particles and bacteria out of the environment to protect our ears. This system cleans itself and old wax gets pushed out of the ear canal. Cotton swab use to clean the ears can push this wax back in and create a thick plug of cerumen impaction. Rudimentary techniques like ear lavage or candling can cause harmful damage to the skin and ear drum and should be avoided. The best way to clean ear wax is via careful instruments under a microscope by a qualified professional.

Earwax Buildup. The ear is made up of an outer/external ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Damage to any of these locations may cause either a: conductive hearing loss-inability to TRANSFER sound from the environment into the inner ear; or a sensorineural hearing loss-injury to the inner ear/cochlea which prevents the ability to TRANSFORM sound from acoustic sound waves into electrical signals for the brain to interpret. Damage to the ear may occur from such varied causes such as: ear infections, cholesteatoma, chemotherapy & radiation therapy, antibiotics toxic to the ear and trauma. Receiving a proper diagnosis from qualified Otolaryngologists who are trained in medical and surgical care of ear disorders is key to hearing improvement.

What Are The Treatment Options

Treatment options will vary depending on the severity and underlying causes of your hearing loss. Here at Greater Miami ENT, our physicians are certified and experienced in a variety of solutions for hearing loss such as hearing aids, cochlea implants, surgical procedures and the removal of ear wax.

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