Hearing Loss Overview

Hearing loss is extremely common.

Hearing loss is extremely common. So common, in fact, that it affects one in five American teenagers and young adults, one in three adults aged 60-74 and half of all adults 75 or older. Although it is so prevalent, most of the general public do not openly discuss their hearing loss, and many wait extremely long periods before reaching out for help. In the United States, people wait seven to ten years on average from the time they notice changes in their hearing to the time they seek treatment from a hearing healthcare professional.

Understanding healthy hearing and hearing loss may help you or a loved one make the truly life-altering and beneficial decision to seek assistance and treatment sooner.

What Are the Types of Hearing Loss?

These are three main types of hearing loss. These are conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. We will discuss each type below.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is physical damage to one or more aspects of the auditory system. This type of hearing loss could be caused by a physical blockage such as excess earwax buildup or a birth defect in the ear canal. Conductive hearing loss can also occur after serious head injuries.

What is Healthy Hearing and How Does it Work?

Believe it or not, our auditory system is one of the most complicated processes our body completes each and every day. Unlike our sense of sight or touch, or sense of hearing never shuts off. It’s why fire alarms are auditory and why we use an alarm clock to get up each morning. In order for us to hear even the most minute sound (including every sound in every word) the entire process outlined below must first occur - and occur almost perfectly.

  • First, auditory waves are collected by the outer ear and enter through the ear canal.

  • Next, these auditory cause our eardrum as well as three tiny bones in the middle ear to vibrate at a specific frequency.

  • These vibrations then move into the spiral shaped organ in our inner ear called the cochlea. Fluids inside the cochlea also begin to ripple and vibrate.

  • The rippling and vibration of the fluid causes tiny and delicate hair-like cells that are located on the fluid to bend and sway.

  • The specific ways these hairlike cells bend, sway, and move, sends electric signals to our brains for processing. These signals are sent through the auditory nerve.

  • Once our brains receive these electric signals, we are able to understand and “hear” the noises and sounds around us.

When Does Hearing Loss Occur?

Hearing loss can affect anyone, at any age. While it is most common amongst older populations, younger people are experiencing hearing loss with higher and higher prevalence. Below we outline some of the most common causes of hearing loss.

construction workers at loud job site

Excess Exposure to Loud Noise

When hearing loss is caused by loud noises, it is called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL can occur with even just one instance of exposure to a loud noise (for example using a firearm without hearing protection). However, NIHL occurs more often as a result of exposure to loud noises over a prolonged period of years or even decades.
grandmother and granddaughter

Natural Aging

Hearing loss caused by natural aging is called presbycusis. As we age, our hairlike cells in our inner ear naturally begin to die and decay, causing issues with hearing.

Diseases or Medications

Certain diseases such as Meniere’s Disease have been known to cause hearing loss. Certain medications - especially those used to help treat people with cancer - can also cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Reach Out to Our Friendly Team Today!

Have you noticed some changes in your hearing?  Do you:

  • Ask others to repeat themselves often?
  • Have difficulty hearing in noisy places?
  • Turn the television up too loud?
  • Have difficulty following a conversation?
  • Complain that people “mumble”?
  • Have difficulty hearing children and women?
  • You can “hear” but not “understand”?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions a consultation is recommended. 

If you are in the Cape Cod area, we would love to hear from you. We understand that reaching out for help with your hearing is a difficult and emotional choice - and we hope you give Coastal Hearing Clinic an opportunity to partner with you.

Contact Us
with a hearing loss patient