Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is more common than you think.

In fact, the latest available statistics show that over 15% of American adults (37.5 million) report some trouble hearing. As the Baby Boomer generation enters retirement, that number is set to rise exponentially. Here is what you need to know about hearing loss:

How do we hear?

Before we talk about how we lose our hearing, it’s a good idea to explore how we are able to hear in the first place.

  • Hearing begins when sound enters the outer ear (the part of the ear you can see) and into the ear canal. The sound then hits the the eardrum in the middle ear.
  • In the middle ear, the eardrum vibrates in response to the sound, and these vibrations are transmitted into the inner ear.
  • Within the inner ear is an organ called the cochlea and the hearing nerve. These have the task of converting sound waves into nerve impulses that get transferred to the brain through tiny hair cells.
  • The brain processes these signals, which are then understood as sound.


Causes of Hearing Loss

One of the most common misconceptions about hearing loss is that it is only experienced by those who are retired or older.

The primary causes of hearing loss are:
  • Aging
  • Chronic exposure to noise
  • Medicine
  • Family history of hearing loss
  • Certain diseases
  • Head trauma

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive and mixed.

Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Treating your hearing loss can do wonders for your personal relationships, your confidence and your long-term health.


Personal Relationships

Communication is one of the most important things to maintain if you want a healthy, fulfilling relationship and continue to share and emotionally support each other to keep the bond between you strong. When hearing loss is treated, the significant other notices the difference. According to research by the Hear the World Foundation, 70% of couples reported an improvement in their relationship as a result of the use of hearing aids.

Improved Physical Independence

Those who treat their hearing loss will immediately notice improvements in their independence. They no longer have to rely on their spouse to repeat things, or answer the phone. They will feel much more at ease in their environments because they are able to hear things on their own. They will value their newfound independence hearing affords them and their confidence will continue to grow.


Improved Long-Term Mental and Cognitive Health

Hearing is a joint effort between the ears and the brain. The work that the brain does when receiving audio information from the hair cells is very important for preserving cognitive health. The brain can only stay active and engaged when it has work to do. When hearing suffers, the brain does not use those sound processing areas as much, which means they get weaker over time. All of this under-stimulation and deterioration over a long period of time can increase the risks of cognitive decline and even dementia. Treating your hearing will stimulate these areas of the brain again.