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Now Hear This: About Hearing Loss

Ron Kaz


May 22nd, 2014


Many people suffer from sudden or gradual hearing loss, and it can have serious health and social consequences. It can be difficult to understand or follow medical advice or respond to warnings, doorbells and alarms. It can also be hard to enjoy talking with family and friends, which can lead to isolation and other social issues. But hearing loss doesn’t have to have a negative effect on your life.  There are MANY resources that can help, and advances in technology have made it easier for patients to better deal with hearing loss, but first and foremost, it’s helpful to understand some hearing loss basics.

Here are some useful facts from the National Institute of Health.

  • Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss.
  • Nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing
  • Gradual age-related hearing loss seems to run in families
  • Hearing loss can occur as a result of noise exposure, either briefly or over a long timewomans hand around her ear
  • People of all ages can develop noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)
  • The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen
  • It’s best to avoid or protect ears from noises that are too loud, too close, or last too long
  • Some people develop a sudden hearing loss called Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL)
  • SSHL can occur all at once or over a period of a few days
  • Of the more than 100 possible causes for SSHL a specific cause is rarely identified
  • 9 out of 10 times SSHL only occurs in one ear
  • A person who experiences SSHL should see a doctor immediately
  • Some people who develop SSHL will spontaneously recover, usually within 2 weeks

Family and friends can be helpful, so it’s important that they know about the hearing loss. Facing the person who has difficulty hearing while talking can also be a big help. Speaking more loudly may help but shouting does not. Speaking more clearly rather than slowly is often beneficial.  If possible choose environments for social gathering that do not contain background noise.

Many people with hearing loss have resistance to wearing a hearing aid. There is also a cost factor to consider which can be substantial. Some hearing aids fit behind the ear but there are several other choices that might work as well and be more hidden inside the ear or ear canal. Several great articles and additional links can be found by checking the web pages at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), which is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Ron Kaz

Courtesy:  National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health (NIDCD/NIH)

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