People often associate hearing loss with older adults. And while it’s common to experience age-related aural changes, hearing loss can develop at any age. It’s also becoming increasingly common in younger people, including one in eight children age 12 and older.
Kevin Sharim and his skilled audiologists help people of all ages manage hearing loss at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals. Identifying the cause of your hearing changes plays a crucial role in determining the best course of treatment.
Here are the types of hearing loss and their causes that our teams see in patients at our locations in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and Tarzana, California.
Understanding hearing loss
Before looking at the cause of hearing loss, it’s important to understand the different types. That’s because hearing-related changes occur for a variety of reasons.
Conductive hearing loss
This form of hearing loss develops due to issues with your outer or middle ear. For instance, you could have fluid, excessive wax buildup, or damage to the eardrum interfering with your hearing.
We can often treat conductive hearing loss by addressing the cause, like removing excessive wax or treating an ear infection.
Sensorineural hearing loss
When you have sensorineural hearing loss, you have inner ear or auditory nerve damage. Unlike conductive hearing loss, this type is permanent. You can also have a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Several things increase your chances of developing sensorineural hearing loss, including advancing age, noise exposure, and health conditions.
Age-related hearing loss
Generally speaking, the greatest predictor of hearing loss for adults involves age, and approximately 28.8 million adults could benefit from hearing aids. Unfortunately, fewer than one in three people age 70 and older have used them.
Hearing loss becomes far more common with age because the inner ear breaks down over time, interfering with how it relays signals to your brain. This kind of hearing loss can make it difficult to understand what others are saying, and loud sounds can seem intolerable.
Age-related hearing loss often comes on gradually and affects both ears equally. It also seems to run in families.
Noise-related hearing loss
Another leading cause of hearing loss involves exposure to loud noise, which damages the inner ear. This hearing loss can occur from a single loud event to chronic exposure over time, including:
- Jobs, like farming, factory work, bartending, or construction
- Firearms, chainsaws, and jet engines
- Snowmobiling, carpentry, and motorcycling
- Listening to loud music
And, as you might expect, the louder the noise, the faster it causes lasting damage.
Fortunately, you can also take steps to protect yourself from noise-related hearing loss. Our team can recommend hearing protection that meets your needs.
Health-related hearing loss
In addition to age and noise, some health conditions can also increase your chances of losing your hearing, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Ear infections from bacteria or viruses
- Heart conditions
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Inherited forms of hearing loss
Certain medications can also damage your inner ear, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
What to do about hearing loss
If you’ve noticed changes to your hearing or want to protect it moving forward, our team can help.
During an audiology consultation, we review your medical history, discuss your risk factors, review symptoms — like tinnitus — and perform a comprehensive hearing evaluation. Once we reach a diagnosis and understand your individual needs, we can make personalized recommendations on how to move forward.
Common treatments for hearing loss include:
- Removing excessive earwax
- Medications to clear up infection
- Hearing aids
- Assistive listening devices
- Surgical repair
We also offer preventive solutions, like custom-made assistive earmolds, for hearing protection.
Are you worried about hearing loss, or have you noticed signs that you may be losing your hearing? Contact Sharp Hearing Care Professionals by phone or online to schedule an appointment today.