According to John Hopkins Medicine, almost 20 percent of people over the age of 12 have some degree of hearing loss. However, statistics show only one out of five individuals who could benefit from the use of hearing aids pursue treatment. With hearing loss being such a common and life-altering issue, it is important to take action as soon as possible.
Treatment options for hearing loss include hearing aids, medical intervention and surgery. These options should be determined by a hearing healthcare provider and your physician. The right treatment depends on a number of factors including severity of hearing loss, the underlying cause, type of hearing loss and your lifestyle.
Why treat hearing loss?
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition facing adults today. Despite being a potentially debilitating health issue, many people delay seeking treatment out of denial, fear or embarrassment.
Untreated hearing loss has been linked to a number of other health problems, both physical and psychological including cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, and increased risk of trips and falls. People with hearing loss often have difficulty following day-to-day conversations and may begin withdrawing from activities and other things they enjoy.
In addition to the emotional and physical effects of hearing loss, a study by the Better Hearing Institute found households with an employed individual who has untreated hearing loss make up to $12,000 less annually. If that's not bad enough, untreated hearing loss can even mean higher out of pocket medical costs for unrelated health problems.
Hearing loss is well-understood in the medical community and that means effective hearing loss treatments are available today.
Treatment for conductive hearing loss
Generally caused by a condition in the outer or middle inner ear, conductive hearing loss is usually temporary. Conductive hearing loss can be the result of earwax build-up, fluid in the middle ear or a perforated eardrum. Conductive hearing loss treatment options usually involve medical intervention to address the specific cause. In the event medical treatment does not clear up the hearing loss, a hearing healthcare professional will investigate other options, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, and the most widely used and effective treatment is hearing aids.
Sensorineural hearing loss originates in the inner ear and/or auditory nerve and is generally caused by damage to the inner ear hair cells. Because these hair cells do not repair themselves and cannot be medically treated once damaged, sensorineural hearing loss is the most prevalent form of permanent hearing loss.
If a permanent hearing loss is suspected, individuals should seek treatment from a hearing healthcare provider who can help pursue other available options. Almost all cases of sensorineural hearing loss can be improved using hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids
When medical intervention cannot restore hearing, hearing aids are a viable option for many individuals. Hearing aids can be purchased in a variety of colors, styles and sizes, and offer different price points based on the features you want or need.
The purpose of a hearing aid is to amplify or make a sound louder. While they do not restore hearing, they do improve hearing ability, allowing you to communicate more clearly. Hearing aids can be worn behind the ear or in the ear depending on the degree of hearing loss and personal preference.
Healthy Hearing answers: Will hearing aids make my hearing loss worse?
Assistive listening devices
Hearing aids are a big help, but sometimes they cannot address the very specific needs of
every wearer. In these situations, there are countless accessories and assistive listening devices that can bridge communication gaps.
Assistive listening devices can improve your experience while watching television, listening to the radio or talking on the phone.
A cochlear implant is a tiny electronic device used to help individuals with severe or total hearing loss perceive sound. Essentially the implant bypasses the normal pathways of hearing in order to directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants differ from hearing aids because they do not make acoustic sounds louder, but rather deliver the acoustic signal as an electrical pulse.
Regardless of whether an individual utilizes hearing aids or cochlear implants, follow-up appointments should be scheduled with their hearing care professional to help the individual adjust to the hearing technology and to ensure the device is working properly.
Hearing loss is all too common, but there has never been a better time to seek treatment with today's amazing technology and medical options available. If you need help with your hearing, don't wait - find a hearing healthcare professional near you and make that important call.