Although there is no universally accepted definition for hearing loss, it is a condition that increases in prevalence and severity with age. Because of its impact on an individual's ability to function and quality of life, a routine hearing loss evaluation and screening is recommended for all ages, including babies. While hearing loss is common in adults, individuals may not recognize the change in hearing due to symptoms that progress slowly or are relatively mild. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), individuals often perceive some hearing loss but do not seek a hearing screening or thorough hearing evaluation.
Audiogram Hearing Assessments
An audiogram, or hearing screening, is a test used to determine if someone might have a hearing loss. The screening is not painful and can be performed while the patient sleeps, which makes it easy for testing babies. An audiologist is an expert trained to conduct numerous tests that help to determine how much of a hearing loss exists. A measure of frequencies and intensity thresholds are used to determine the degree of hearing loss and whether one or both ears are similarly affected. In many cases, hearing can be improved by simple treatments, such as removing earwax build-up or treating an ear infection with antibiotics.
What are the most common causes of hearing impairment?
Hearing impairment* can be multifactorial to include genetic factors, a history of inner ear infections, blockage due to a buildup of earwax or bone, exposure to loud noises, age-related degeneration, exposure to ototoxic agents or the presence of a systemic disease, such as diabetes.
*NOTE: Audiologists often define mild hearing impairment as an inability to hear frequencies associated with speech processing and moderate hearing loss as the inability to hear speech-related frequencies.
Hearing Aids and Other Therapies
Signal amplification is the primary treatment for hearing loss and digital signal processing is the technology used for hearing aids (in-the-ear devices that amplify sounds) and assistive listening devices (off-the-ear devices that amplify sounds). Hearing aids have a wide range of features and costs based on the unit's style and device technology. Hearing aid styles include behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, in-the-canal, and completely-in-the-canal designs. Other options for treatment of those with a more profound hearing loss may include hearing rehabilitation, hearing surgery, such as a stapedectomy, or cochlear implant surgery.
Typically, a hearing screening takes only a few minutes and can be very beneficial in determining which hearing loss treatments or therapies will be the most beneficial for a patient. However, studies conducted by the ASHA suggests that only 10 to 20 percent of people who have a hearing loss have ever used a hearing aid. Additionally, about 30 percent of those who have used hearing aids stop using the device at some point. If you or a loved one are having difficulty hearing conversations, contact our audiologist today at 904-419-2054; or use this website's "Request an Appointment" form for a prompt email response.