Understanding Hearing Loss

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,187
    Barbara Kelley, Deputy Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) provides information and advice on hearing loss.

    Barbara Kelley: Hi! I am Barbara Kelley with the Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss is a major public health concern in the United States. In fact if you think about it, you may know someone with a hearing loss or even have a hearing loss yourself. Dr. John Niparko, M.

    D: About 30 million American are affected by a significant hearing loss and that is a 30 decibel greater hearing loss.

    Barbara Kelley: Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. Depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. Congenital hearing loss means you are born without hearing. While gradual hearing loss happens over time. Dr. John Niparko, M.

    D: Our ears are under siege by a number of potential factors. The most common forms of hearing loss relate to a combination of the aging effect and exposure to noise. Barbara Kelley: Being exposed to everyday noises such as listening to very loud music, being in a noisy work environment or using power tools or a lawnmower can meet to hearing loss over many years. Noise induces hearing loss from gunfire, explosion, is the number one disability caused by combat in current wars. More often than not severe tinnitus or ringing in the ears will accompany the hearing loss and may be just as debilitating as the hearing loss itself. Other causes of hearing loss include ear wax build up, an object in the ear, injury to the ear or head, ear infection, a ruptured ear drum and other conditions that affect the middle or inner ear. More than ever, young people are at risk for hearing loss because of repeated exposure to loud sounds. Dr. John Niparko, M.

    D: There is a strong suggestion that in use of personal entertainment devices that is iPods, MP3s, cell phones and so forth, where our ears are going to be barraged by an ongoing level of sound in some cases it can be a relatively mild amount of sound but the fact that it is continuous over many hours in a given day for so many young adults in our society suggest that there may be burden of high-tone hearing loss that is coming directly from the use of personal entertainment devices. Barbara Kelley: There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss. Dr. John Niparko, M.

    D: The progressive hearing loss of aging especially if it's superimposed on a background of Meniere's disease of a medical condition of the inner ear or background of noise exposure means that a lot of individuals in their 70's and even 80's have experienced a profound level of hearing loss by that stage. Barbara Kelley: In age related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, charges in the inner ear that happen as you get older causes slow but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe and it is always permanent. In older people a hearing loss is often confused with or complicates such conditions as dementia. Hearing loss is an invisible condition. We can't see a hearing loss only its effects. Because the presence of a hearing loss is not visible these effects may be attributed to aloofness, confusion, of even personality changes. 3 of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing. Even a mild hearing loss or a one-sided hearing loss can affect school work. Research has shown that on average children with mild hearing loss perform poorer than their normally hearing peers and they may need to repeat a grade. Dr. John Niparko, M.

    D: The early onset hearing loss problem in a young child affects virtually every aspect of that child's development. So this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in a very thoughtful and proactive way. Timely intervention can product remarkable outcomes. This is an early onset problem that we can do something about. Barbara Kelley: Those are some basic facts. So hopefully now you are more aware of the issues surrounding hearing loss.