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Common Causes of Hearing Loss

Close to 50 million Americans have some level of hearing loss, and while many could benefit from hearing aids, only about 20% will use them. There’s a lot at stake when your hearing is compromised, and it’s not always easy to see how. 

Sometimes, people find they aren’t getting the same enjoyment from things they once loved, perhaps going to the theatre or playing cards with friends, and they don’t realize that these activities aren’t engaging anymore because of hearing issues. The human brain adapts to changes in hearing, so it’s difficult to recognize gradual reductions in certain frequencies or overall loudness. Situations that were once no issue are now problematic. 

If your friends and family suggest to you that your hearing isn’t what it once was, it’s time to visit Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat. Not every reason for hearing loss is permanent, so an examination by SCENT’s team can help you know for certain the reasons for your issue, as well as your alternatives for treatment. 

The most common causes of hearing loss

There are plenty of changes in life that get brought on simply by aging, and hearing loss is yet another. It doesn’t, however, affect everyone in the same way. Premature age-related hearing loss seems to have a genetic connection that runs in families, though your hearing can decline with age regardless of previous generations. 

Called presbycusis medically, age-related hearing loss is the single most common cause of impaired hearing, and the older you get, the greater the risk. Over the age of 75, about 50% of the population has some level of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is usually sensorineural. 

Exposure to loud noise can also cause sensorineural hearing loss. It’s another common cause of impaired hearing, and it usually relates to prolonged exposure to loud sounds over long periods of time. You may not notice hearing loss after a single exposure, but each adds up to create hearing issues down the road. 

Earwax buildup can cause hearing loss, though fortunately this is a temporary condition that can be cleared with home care or a visit to SCENT. Earwax, called cerumen, can be pushed back into the ear canal where it’s unable to escape naturally. In extreme cases, it can physically block the transmission of sound. It doesn’t usually cause permanent issues. 

Types of hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss originates with tiny hairs in the cochlea. These hairs, when healthy, convert acoustic energy to nerve sensations. Aging and sound exposure both begin to damage these tiny hairs, known as cilia. When they are damaged or destroyed, you no longer receive sound signals in your brain for the frequencies they represent. When enough cilia are compromised, hearing loss results. 

Another type of hearing loss is conductive. Like the situation with cerumen buildup, something physically stops the transmission of acoustic energy before it reaches the cochlea. Fluid buildup in the middle ear, malformations of the ear or its parts, and physical damage to the ear can all cause conductive hearing loss. 

To understand more about your own hearing loss and what alternatives you have for treatment or assistive devices, contact Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat at the most convenient of their five locations. You can call the nearest office directly or you can request an appointment from the link on this page. Find out what you’re missing. Book your consultation now.

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