There are three principal types of hearing loss. A sensorineural condition affects the inner ear and its related organs. A conductive problem affects the middle or outer portions of the ear, which include the eardrum and auditory canal. Mixed hearing loss affects every part of the auditory system.
Often related to the normal aging process, a reduction in the ability to hear may develop over a period of time. A sudden loss of hearing should be given immediate medical attention. Some hearing problems are inherited, while others result from the prolonged exposure to loud noise that comes with certain occupations or recreational activities. Ailments like meningitis can also damage the auditory system. Diminished hearing in one ear can result from a specific problem, such as a tumor.
Those having hearing problems may notice that the speech of others is muffled and may even be difficult to understand, often hampering their communication. Extreme hearing loss can even lead to social isolation. Fortunately, ear hearing loss treatment can improve or reverse the situation. Modern hearing aids can help those with such problems lead normal lives.
As we advance in years, one thing that becomes more common amongst the aging population is hearing loss. It might start with ringing ears or the diminishing of the ability to hear higher frequency sounds. By the time we leave our fifties, we look around and find that 30% of people over 60 have some sort of hearing loss.
Hearing loss does not affect only one generation, however. For the younger baby boomers (ages 41-59), one out of every six, or 14.6% have some sort of problem with their hearing. Generation Xers are not immune either. For this generation of Americans, one in fourteen, or 7.4% already have hearing loss, and among children 18 and younger, 1.4 million live with hearing problems and could benefit from assistive listening devices.
But hearing loss does not need to signal the end of the kind of quality of life you would like to enjoy. Today’s technology has come a long way in the development and implementation of quality hearing aids and devices. Hearing aids that you may have tried 20 years ago and found very problematic are not the hearing aids of today. Listening devices such as digital hearing aids, assistive listening devices and custom hearing protection make hearing more possible than ever before.
One breakthrough device in the world of assistive listening devices is the cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that does the replaces the damaged parts of the ear. Unlike hearing aids, the cochlear implant does not simply make sounds louder, it replaces the function of the damaged inner ear, sending sound signals to the brain.
Many people born with normal hearing experience a loss of that hearing as the get older due to some kind of damage. According to the NICID, roughly 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss due to some kind of noise from work or other leisure activities. In years past, this kind of hearing loss could mean the end of the ability to work. It would most certainly have meant the loss of the ability of a music lover to enjoy his music or a nature lover her ability to enjoy the sounds of the birds and other wildlife. These days, modern technology has made it possible to restore much if not all that has been lost in hearing function.
As of December 2012, there were approximately 58, 000 cochlear devices implanted in adults and 38,000 implanted in children in the United States alone. Worldwide there were approximately 324,200 devices implanted. Thousands of lives are being changed by the technology that has been developed. If you’ve been experiencing hearing loss as you are aging, it’s not anything to be afraid of. Hearing loss doesn’t have to stand in your way of having a wonderful life. Ask your doctor about the advances in hearing technology and find out what might be right for you.