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An Overview of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss due to aging is a common condition that impacts many older adults. Almost 1 in 2 adults over age 65 experience some degree of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis. Hearing loss can affect anyone at any age and the statistics according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders are astonishing. On top of that, the average delay between the time someone is affected by hearing loss and when they finally seek treatment is a long 7 years. Lucky for you, you have come to the right place to learn about hearing loss. Let’s look at the 7 Signs of Hearing Loss.
Two Types of Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It is permanent and caused either by damage to tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear or to the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve carries important information about the loudness, pitch, and meaning of sounds to the brain.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the outer or middle ear or an obstruction in the ear canal such as ear wax that blocks sound from getting to the eardrum. It can be permanent but more often, it is temporary and can be medically treated. Mixed hearing loss results when there are components of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss present.
7 Signs of Hearing Loss
1. Words Begin to Drop from Conversations
Increasing difficulty with understanding other people, especially in noisy environments such as crowded shopping malls or loud parties, may reveal a declining ability to distinguish speech from noise. It’s common for people to respond to this problem by asking for speakers to repeat themselves, to speak more loudly, or to slow down. Television and radio speech may also seem to fade into unintelligible gibberish. Conversations in general seem to lose their color and vibrancy.
2. Becomes Increasingly Difficult to Have ‘Normal’ Social Situations
Without quite realizing why, a person suffering from creeping hearing loss may increasingly retreat from social situations. They somehow seem too difficult, often leading to awkward moments when a critical point is missed, or a joke is misheard. It begins to seem as if plunging into even a crowd of longtime friends or close business associates results in nothing but inexplicable, growing social isolation.
3. People Sound Like They Are Mumbling
Other people may seem to slowly acquire a bad habit of failing to clearly enunciate their words. Consonants disappear into the mist as vowels rudely strut to the fore. This perception often indicates a loss of the ability to clearly hear higher-frequency or softer sounds such as sibilants. Similarly, snakes lose their hisses, clock alarms ditch their high-pitched beeps, and machine clicks such as those from automobile turn signals seemingly disappear.
4.Tinnitus (Random Non-Existant Noises)
Unexplained sounds such as buzzing, ringing, or clicking in one or both of your ears could very well indicate a significant medical problem that requires professional attention. Long-term exposure to loud sounds such as unmuffled gunshots, blaring rock-music concerts, and clanging industrial machinery can produce persistent, sometimes permanent tinnitus. Sinus and ear infections, hormonal changes in women, and common reactions to many medications can result in temporary or persistent tinnitus.
5. It Becomes Increasingly More Difficult To Hear Children and Womens’ Voices
Females and children generally have higher, softer voices than adult males, which means communication with children and grandchildren may be one of the first victims of encroaching hearing loss. For a devoted parent or grandparent, this can be devastating. A spouse may begin to drift away from a significant other because ordinary conversations have become oddly difficult. A similar problem may arise with failing to understand strongly accented voices as their tonal edges seem to gradually disappear.
6. Turning Up The Volume On All Devices
Routine annoyance with strangely soft audio levels from televisions, smartphones, and other audio devices may instead constitute a barely noticed symptom of gradual hearing loss. A growing habit of cranking up the sound to unusually high levels often signifies that it’s time to seek professional testing for hearing problems.
7. Loss of Richness in Sounds
Regardless of their volume or nature, sounds from all sources seem to grow muffled and flat. Birdsong becomes simpler and less nuanced, and human voices seem to abandon their ordinary tonal ranges. Long-loved musical performances and songs grow dull and uninteresting. Even ordinary noises like hammering from construction projects and the roar of motor vehicles seem to devolve into dull cartoon versions of their former selves. Such an evolution from complexity into lifeless simplicity is oddly easy to overlook if it happens slowly enough.
The Final Thought
While hearing loss before 55 is rare, the ratio is 1:2 in those older then 55. Hearing aids can be rather expensive, but may be covered by your part B Medicare plan. Original Medicare and most Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) Plans don’t cover hearing aids, routine hearing exams, or fittings for hearing aids. This means that without other insurance, you could pay 100% of the cost for routine hearing exams, fittings, and hearing aids.
Medicare Part B does, however, cover diagnostic hearing tests that your doctor orders for a medical need like a recent hearing loss due to illness or injury. If your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing test. You would pay 20% of the amount approved by Medicare, plus the Medicare Part B deductible.
Visiting an audiologist is usually the first response to possible hearing loss. If necessary, an otolaryngologist — an ear, nose, and throat specialist — can conduct a thorough examination to uncover underlying medical issues. Treatment might include simple removal of excessive earwax, antibiotics for a sinus infection, or even small, unobtrusive hearing aids that can reclaim much of your lost sound. Only your medical professional can provide comprehensive information on possible causes and treatments.
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