Our ears are the gateway to speech, music and the sounds of nature but they also bring damaging noise into our lives and can cause us pain and problems. Hearing loss increases with age and is caused by everyday things like lawn mowers, road construction, and even loud TV or radio broadcasts — all as the various parts of the ear become less responsive. Further, ear infections that inflame the middle ear because of bacteria from fluid build-up behind the eardrum can not only be painful but also present other complications. Our clinic is dedicated to helping you find the exact problem you have and then crafting a solution.
The research at the government-funded National Institutes of Health and other public-private and university programs is constantly yielding new insight into these age-old problems. New technology and tools are also always in development. Our commitment to you is to keep you in-the-know about the latest developments in all of the ear-related health areas. Once you feel you’ve learned what you can here, our specialists would love to meet with you and listen to your unique symptoms.
If you answer yes to more than two of the following questions, you should have your hearing evaluated further by a certified audiologist: Contact our office to schedule your complementary hearing device consultation.
- Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
- Do you hear better through one ear than the other when you are on the telephone?
- Do you have trouble following the conversation with two or more people talking at the same time?
- Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
- Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
- Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
- Do you have trouble hearing in restaurants?
- Do you have dizziness, pain, or ringing in your ears?
- Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
- Do family members or coworkers remark about your missing what has been said?
- Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
- Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
- Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
- Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?
Causes of hearing loss include:
- Damage to the inner ear. Aging may cause wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea that send sound signals to the brain. When these hairs or nerve cells are damaged or missing, electrical signals aren’t transmitted as efficiently, and hearing loss occurs. Higher pitched tones may become muffled to you. This type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss, which is permanent.
- A gradual buildup of earwax. Earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. This can be restored with earwax removal.
- Ear infection and abnormal bone growths or tumors. In the outer or middle ear, any of these can cause hearing loss.
- Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation). Loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object and infection can cause your eardrum to rupture and affect your hearing.
- Exposure to loud sounds can damage the cells of your inner ear. Damage can occur with long-term exposure to loud noises, or from a short blast of noise, such as from a gunshot. Noise-induced hearing loss also occurs in occupational and recreational settings. Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment, such as farming, construction or factory work, can lead to damage inside your ear. Exposure to explosive noises, such as from firearms and jet engines, can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss. Other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels include snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music.
- Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage from sound or deterioration from aging.
- Some medications. Drugs, such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs, can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on your hearing — ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss — can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin, other pain relievers, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
- Some illnesses. Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea, resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Hearing loss is not just an ailment of old age. It can strike at any time and any age, even childhood. For the young, even a mild or moderate case of hearing loss could bring difficulty learning, developing speech and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster-self esteem and succeed in school and life. Unfortunately, most people affected by hearing loss live with these difficulties for years before seeking treatment — or never seek treatment at all. This may also cause lasting problems for those who love you, if you try to cope by denying your hearing loss or withdrawing from social interactions. Commonly reported problems in both the young and elderly include:
- Fatigue, tension stress and depression
- Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- Social rejection and loneliness
- Reduced altertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Reduced job performance and earning power
- A false sense that others are angry with you
- Irritability, negativism and anger
- Diminished psychological and overall health.
If you have hearing problems, help is available. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss.
- Removing wax blockage. Earwax blockage is a reversible cause of hearing loss. Your doctor may remove earwax by loosening it with oil and then flushing, scooping or suctioning out the softened wax.
- Surgical procedures. Surgery may be necessary if you’ve had a traumatic ear injury or repeated infections that require the insertion of small tubes that help the ears drain.
- Hearing devices. If your hearing loss is due to damage to your inner ear, a hearing device can help by making sounds stronger and easier for you to hear. An audiologist can discuss with you the potential benefits of using a hearing device, recommend a device and fit you with it.
- Cochlear implants. If you have severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be an option for you. Unlike a hearing device that amplifies sound and directs it into your ear canal, a cochlear implant compensates for damaged or nonworking parts of your inner ear. If you’re considering a cochlear implant, your audiologist, along with a medical doctor who specializes in disorders of the ears, nose and throat (ENT), can discuss the risks and benefits with you.
Benefits of treatment
Getting treatment can improve your quality of life dramatically. People who use hearing aids report these benefits:
- Greater self-confidence
- Closer relationships with loved ones
- Improved outlook on life, overall
- Less depression
Research by the National Council on the Aging on more than 2,000 people with hearing loss has demonstrated that hearing devices clearly are associated with dramatic improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people in all hearing loss categories from mild to severe. Specifically, hearing aid usage was shown to improve the following for people with measured hearing loss.
- Earning power
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
- Ease in communication
- Emotional stability
- Sense of control over life events
- Perception of mental functioning
- Physical health
For most people suffering from hearing loss, you’ve seen your hearing decline very gradually over a period of years. And you probably just got used to it as one side effect of getting older and wiser.
Ready to get back to being a full part of the conversation and enjoying the sounds of life, from the birds outside your house to your grandchildren, friends and your family? Take the first step by calling our office for a baseline hearing evaluation.
Surgical options to correct hearing loss due to middle ear disorders are common and typically addressed by an Otolaryngologist during a consultation. These options include the placement of PE tubes in the ears or surgery to correct abnormalities with the bones of the middle ear system. A lesser-known option is the BAHA or Bone Anchored Hearing Aid, also referred as a BAHA Osseointegrated Implant. BAHA devices are surgical implants used for patients with chronic middle ear disorders which can no longer be adequately treated with medication or other surgical options. Candidates for a Baha include those with physical abnormalities of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear space and those with single-sided deafness. In patients with single-sided deafness, the “deaf” ear must be a non-funcitonal ear and the “good” ear must meet the criteria for normal hearing. A consult with an Otolaryngologist or Audiologist familiar with BAHA implants is advised to determine candidacy for this implant.
A Cochlear Implant is a surgical option for patients with severe to profound, sensorineural (permanent) hearing loss. This surgery has very specific criteria for candidacy and is reserved for patients who no longer benefit from properly fitted and programmed hearing aids. Cochlear Implants have a very different sound from what we are used to hearing, and adjusting to a Cochlear Implant is a 6-12 month process as patients are re-learning how to hear. However, it is a great option for patients who meet the criteria for candidacy and is a better long-term solution to improve speech understanding in patients with severe to profound hearing loss. A hearing test and consultation with an Audiologist or Otolaryngologist are required to determine if you or a loved one is a candidate for a Cochlear Implant.
If you have a sudden loss of hearing, particularly in one ear, seek immediate medical attention.
Talk to your doctor if difficulty hearing is interfering with your daily life. Your hearing may have deteriorated if:
- You find that it’s harder to understand everything that’s said in conversation, especially when there’s background noise
- Sounds seem muffled
- You find yourself having to turn the volume higher when you listen to music, the radio or television
When an individuals hearing is not optimal, it can lead to feelings of detachment. Day-to-day conversations can prove difficult, causing them to withdraw from people and activities. The sense of isolation can be frightening, depressing and lonely. It can make them feel helpless, frustrated, resentful and angry.
Approximately 35 million American adults suffer from hearing loss. Of those, only 1 out of 4 who could benefit from use of hearing aids actually use them. The first step to reconnecting to the world is visiting your SoundLogic hearing care provider. Our professionals have the technical expertise and years of experience required to correctly assess the cause of any hearing problems and recommend the appropriate course of action. We also have staff physicians whom we partner with to diagnose and treat any medical issues that may be present.
The Process and Solution
When you make an appointment at SoundLogic, you will have a comprehensive hearing test to determine the severity of your hearing loss. We will then learn about your lifestyle and how you connect with your world. We want to understand how you communicate today and how you wish to communicate tomorrow. Once we have discovered your needs based on your lifestyle assessment, we will diagnose your current hearing health and explain the results of our comprehensive tests. Together we will identify the gap between where you’re at and where you want to be with your listening lifestyle.
Your hearing care professional will then recommend a solution that will bridge the gap and thus reconnect you to your world. If a medical evaluation is warranted, you will be referred to an Otolaryngologist for a medical consultation. We will then schedule a fitting appointment where your solution will be customized using the latest verification protocols.