Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions afflicting adults in this country. About 15% of American adults aged 18 and over have some kind of hearing loss. The greatest level of hearing loss is in the 60 to 69 age group, making age the strongest indicator of hearing loss. Interestingly, among adults aged 20-69, men are nearly twice as likely as women to have hearing loss.

How do we hear?

To understand hearing loss, we must first understand how we hear in the first place.

  • 1. First, sound waves in the air go into the outer ear and travel through a passage called the ear canal, which is the route that leads to the eardrum.
  • 2. The eardrum vibrates from the incoming sound waves and sends these vibrations to tiny bones in the middle ear.
  • 3. These bones convert the sound vibrations from the air into ripples on a body of liquid which sits in the cochlea of the inner ear. The cochlea is an organ is shaped like a snail and filled with fluid.
  • 4. The ripple is felt by hair cells, and the hair cells move up and down in response.
  • 5. Chemicals which react to this movement create electrical signals, which are carried to the brain through the auditory nerve.
  • 6. The auditory nerve carries this electrical signal to the brain, which turns it into a sound that we recognize and understand.

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Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It often comes on gradually as you get older, but it can sometimes happen suddenly. Here are the two main types of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds are obstructed and unable to pass from your outer ear to your ear canal, usually because of a blockage such as ear wax. Due to this obstruction sounds become quieter and more muffled. The good news is that this kind of hearing loss is often temporary. Ear infections are a common cause of this type of hearing loss in infants and young children. In these cases, the hearing loss is usually mild, temporary, and treatable through medical means.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells inside the inner ear or to the auditory nerve (or both). This distorts the electrical signals being sent to your brain, which makes it tough for your brain to process the sound. The quality of the sound that you hear is reduced and your ability to hear quiet sounds is diminished. Unfortunately, it is permanent, meaning no medical procedure currently exists to correct it. There are two types of this kind of hearing loss – age-related and noise-induced.

The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is through aging. Also known as presbycusis, it is the loss of hearing that naturally occurs in most of us as we get older. We usually develop this through gradual wear and tear to the tiny ‘hair cells’ in the cochlea, but genetic reasons can also play a part. To illustrate how widespread presbycusis is, about one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has some kind of hearing loss, and almost half of those older than 75 have trouble hearing.

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss

It’s not always easy to tell if you’re losing your hearing, especially if it is sensorineural.

Common signs include:

  • Having to work really hard to hear what other people are saying, which can be exhausting or stressful.
  • Having to watch TV at a louder volume than other people in the room.
  • Misunderstanding other people, especially in noisy places.
  • Asking other people to repeat themselves regularly.

There are also implications. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow your doctor’s advice, respond to verbal warnings from others, and hear the phone, doorbell, or smoke alarm. Hearing loss can also make it difficult to enjoy time with family and friends, and can make you feel isolated in their presence.

If you are concerned that your child has hearing loss, common signs might include:


  • Having limited, poor, or no speech at an age where speech is appropriate.
  • A need for higher volume when watching TV.
  • Answering inappropriately to your words.
  • Failing to respond to his or her name or being easily frustrated when there’s a lot of background noise.

If you feel that you or your child might have hearing loss, the best thing to do is to take a hearing test. We offer comprehensive hearing tests for adults and children which will illustrate the exact nature and extent of any hearing loss present.


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Have Questions?

Get in touch with Best Life Hearing Center today and start a path to healthy hearing.

Contact Us

Have Questions?

Get in touch with Best Life Hearing Center today and start a path to healthy hearing.


Contact Us

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