Over 48 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Unfortunately, most of them wait an average of seven years before seeking help for their condition. In fact, only one out of every five people who could benefit from a hearing aid uses one.
At Sharp Hearing Care Professionals, we want to keep you from this predicament. To do that, you need to understand the different types of hearing loss and how to prevent them.
Hearing loss falls into two categories: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is typically reversible, but sensorineural is permanent. Experiencing hearing loss can be scary, but it’s important you remain calm and focus on the facts.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is when sound can’t get through your outer or middle ear. The good news is it’s usually not permanent. With medicine or surgery, this type of hearing loss can usually be fixed. Here are a few causes of conductive hearing loss:
A cold, allergies or an ear infection could cause your eustachian tube to get blocked, which causes a build-up of fluid. This is a breeding ground for infections, which can cause pain, pressure, and temporary hearing loss. Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers can help, but if it’s severe enough, you may want to see a doctor for antibiotics to clear up the infection.
Earwax is designed to keep harmful substances from reaching your eardrum, but too much of it can give you earaches, tinnitus, and hearing loss. To remove it, try a warm washcloth or see your doctor. Don't use a cotton swab — you’ll likely just push the wax in farther.
Your eardrum can sometimes burst due to loud noise, an infection, or from poking too much with a cotton swab. This can also lead to pain and hearing loss. Your eardrum should heal on its own within a couple of months, but it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor to make sure it’s healing properly.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent. It’s usually the result of inner ear damage whether from loud noise, serious damage, or natural causes. If you’re diagnosed with this type of hearing loss you won’t regain your hearing. However, hearing aids can provide some benefit.
Attending concerts, sporting events, as well as listening to loud music from your headphones, can cause issues. Once you reach 85 or 90 decibels, damage can begin to set in. Permanent damage usually happens more from day-to-day exposure over an extended time frame rather than one loud instance. That's why you should keep the volume on your headphones low and carry earplugs when you’re going to a loud environment.
Diabetics are twice as likely to develop hearing loss than people with normal blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, see an ear, nose, and throat doctor or an audiologist for a hearing screening, and make sure to consistently check your blood sugar.
Not wearing a hearing aid
This won’t actually cause hearing loss but wearing a hearing aid when you need one may protect the hearing you have left. If you need a hearing aid, don’t delay the process just because you don’t want to deal with it or you might be embarrassed. Save the hearing you have left!
If you're struggling with hearing loss, you don’t have to struggle alone. Contact the expert team at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals to set up an appointment today.