Hearing loss information

Gathering information is a great place to start. You can use what you learn to guide you on your path to better hearing. You can also share it with a family member or loved one—if you can help them acknowledge their hearing loss, you’ll be well on the way to helping them find a solution.

YourHearing gives individuals with hearing loss easy access to a network of carefully screened and credentialed hearing care professionals and the best in state-of-the-art hearing aids. At YourHearing, our goal is to help people enjoy their everyday life more with better hearing. Our easy process connects individuals with credentialed providers near their home or work. To find out if what you’re experiencing is hearing loss, schedule an appointment online at one of our clinics or call (800) 550-5399 today.

What is hearing loss?

“Hearing loss” means that you have a decreased sensitivity to sounds that are normally heard. The type and degree of hearing loss can vary, but most cases can be helped.

Hearing loss not only affects an individual’s ability to communicate, it also affects their mood and overall health–and if left untreated it has been linked to depression, cognitive decline and memory problems.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the average amount of time a person with hearing loss waits to seek treatment is between 7 to 10 years.

Treating hearing loss sooner with hearing aids has been shown in studies to halt cognitive decline, improve mood and can help your loved one stay healthy and feel connected again. If you are one of the estimated 48 million American adults suffering from hearing loss, the information below could help answer some of your questions.

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Recognizing the signs of hearing loss

Sometimes recognizing hearing loss isn't as easy as say noticing that your socks are mismatched. A lot of people go years without realizing their hearing has changed. And that’s a big deal. Your ears play critical roles within your body, including your brain. Even mild hearing loss can impact your health. So what are some of the signs of hearing loss that you should be looking for?

Asking to have things repeated. Everyone needs to have things repeated now and again. But if you ask more and more often and sometimes feel “outside” the conversation, you might want to have your hearing professionally checked. Asking to have things repeated can quickly turn into a bad habit. Sadly, a lot of times people will recognize they are bothering others by asking to have things repeated but won’t recognize their hearing changes. Instead they begin to avoid conversations. Don’t isolate yourself, recognize this sign of hearing loss and remember there is something you can do about it.

Buzzing or whistling in the ears. Hearing a buzzing, ringing or whistling sound with no actual noise present is called tinnitus. These phantom sounds happen to a lot of people and are an early sign of hearing loss. The good news is many hearing aid manufacturers offer hearing aids specifically designed to help people with tinnitus. And many people say using hearing aids in general helps to alleviate their tinnitus symptoms.

Your normal is your spouse’s loud. Turning the volume of the television so loud your spouse complains or being told you’re speaking too loud when you think you’re talking at a normal level are classic signs of hearing loss. Frequently friends and loved ones notice your symptoms of hearing loss before you do. One easy way to gauge your hearing is by becoming aware of how others react to things you don’t think are too loud.

Frustration with background noise. Background noise, say in a restaurant, can make it hard for everyone to hear, but it’s even harder when you have a hearing loss. People with unchanged hearing can better focus on the sounds they want to hear while tuning out those they don’t want. People with a hearing loss have a more difficult time with background noise. Today’s hearing aid manufacturers are aware of this. They’ve developed hearing aids that hone in on wanted noise and dismiss unwanted background noise. Basically, these hearing aids simulate the organic way we are used to hearing. Demo a pair today.

Some sounds hurt. When some things seem unreasonably loud it can be a sign of hearing loss. It might seem weird, but it’s true. Finding things are “too loud” or being repeatedly startled by sounds happens because you can’t hear certain ranges of sounds. In a sense, you’ve gotten used to silence. So when a range you can hear happens, bam! It can be startling. Try to pay attention to how often sounds startle you. If it keeps happening more and more, you should have your hearing checked by a hearing care professional.

Dropped conversation cues. If you’ve recently been in a conversation with someone and it seemed they suddenly got quieter or expected a response but you had no idea why, you could’ve been experiencing a dropped conversation cue. This can happen because hearing loss is experienced in ranges. So you might hear one range just fine, but when the range shifts, you experience a dropped signal. Sort of like your cell phone can go out of range. Today’s hearing aids are tailored to your individual hearing loss. That means they grab and deliver the sounds that you are missing, making it easier for you to keep up with the conversation.

Symptoms of hearing loss

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There are so many things that you can fix yourself, but your hearing is not a DIY project. You’ve tried the easy fixes “Speak up!” “Turn up the TV!” “Stop talking so fast!” Or if you’re getting really DIY you’ve tried to fix your hearing loss by avoiding uncomfortable social occasions. How about how you’ve treated it by turning up the TV so much that it drives your family and friends crazy?

Well perhaps it’s time to measure twice, cut once.

If hearing loss has been affecting you—it may be time to address it. The only way to know if you have hearing loss is to have a hearing test. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, call a YourHearing specialist at 800.550.5399 today to schedule a hearing test.

Experiencing signs of hearing loss? Call 800.550.5399 to schedule a hearing test today.

Types of hearing loss

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There are four core types of hearing loss—sensorineural, conductive, mixed and central. Knowing what type you are experiencing makes it easier to find the best hearing aid for you.

Sensorineural hearing loss also known as nerve-related, or permanent hearing loss is the result of problems in the inner ear and is the most common type in adults. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by presbyacusis or age related hearing loss, infection or other disease, noise exposure drugs or genetics. This type of loss is usually permanent but can be helped with the use of hearing aids.

Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem in the outer or middle ear, but indicates normal inner ear activity. This means it can often be treated with medical attention or surgery. In children, this is most commonly caused by fluid in the middle ear, often referred to as glue ear. Other causes may include wax in the ear canal, swimmer’s ear or a perforation in the eardrum.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and is a result of damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or auditory nerve. While the part that is conductive may be medically treated, the sensorineural part can be helped with the use of hearing aids.

Central hearing loss, the rarest type of loss, also called auditory processing disorder is caused by impairment to the central auditory system’s ability to filter and process sounds transmitted from the ear to the brain. This type of hearing loss cannot be helped with hearing aids.

Tinnitus, commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears”, is a condition that affects 1 out of every 5 American’s ability to hear on an ongoing basis.

People with tinnitus describe hearing ringing, hissing, static, screeching, whooshing, roaring, pulsing or buzzing sounds that others don’t hear. Tinnitus can occur in one ear or both, be off-and-on or persistent, temporary or chronic.

Many factors can contribute to tinnitus—the most common being loud noises you might experience at concerts, sporting events or working with noisy equipment. Other causes run the gambit from aging, wax buildup and certain medications to jaw misalignment, head trauma, disease and tumors.

While no cure for tinnitus exists, you can manage its effects. Limiting exposure to extreme noise levels, or wearing earplugs, is the simplest way to protect your ears. If you suffer from hearing loss in addition to tinnitus, there is a good chance your hearing care professional can fit you with hearing aids to both improve your hearing and relieve tinnitus.

Want to learn more about how to treat your tinnitus and feel good again? Download YourHearing’s Free Guide To The Most Effective Tinnitus Treatments today.

Degrees of hearing loss

Slight hearing loss: between 16 to 25 dB

Mild hearing loss: between 26 to 40 dB

Moderate hearing loss: between 41 to 55 dB

Moderately severe hearing loss: between 56 to 70 dB

Severe hearing loss: between 71 to 90 dB

Profound hearing loss: between 90 + dB

How do you know your degree of hearing loss? Your degree of hearing loss is determined by an audiogram—the result of your hearing test. An audiogram measures how clearly you hear sounds measured by decibels (dB) at different frequencies measured by hertz (Hz). To make it simple think of notes on a piano. A note on a scale might be higher Hz but not louder dB. The clearer your hearing, the more hertz frequencies you can hear at lower decibels.

A person with average hearing can hear different (Hz) at as low as between negative 10 to 15 dB. That’s fairly low. For reference, a jackhammer is an ear cracking 140 decibels.

To better understand an audiogram, let’s take a look at a single sample line from one.

 Frequency (Hz)   Right Ear 
 Left Ear 
 250 Hz
 30 dB
 35dB

So for this example, the decibel has to be as loud as 30 in one ear and 35 in the other ear for a person to hear the frequency of 250 hertz. But that’s just how each ear receives one Hz frequency. The degree of hearing loss not only changes with each Hz, and you are measured up to 8000 Hz, it can change with each ear.

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Some people can have high-frequency hearing loss in one ear and have average hearing in the other. Are you starting to see how unique your hearing is?

Here’s how a hearing health professional will define the different ways you can experience hearing loss:

Bilateral hearing loss. Bi means two. This means that both of your ears have hearing loss. Not to worry, today’s hearing aids can compensate for this type of two ear hearing loss better than at any time in the past.

Unilateral hearing loss. Uni means one. This is the term for hearing loss in one ear.

Symmetrical hearing loss. Both of your ears have the exact same degree of loss.

Asymmetrical hearing loss. One of your ears has a different level of loss than the other.

Okay, so you can see that your hearing is pretty unique, as is your level of hearing loss, but there are also different ways your hearing loss can happen, improve or get worse. Those things are defined with these terms:

Progressive. Progressive hearing loss means that your hearing loss didn’t happen overnight. It has been getting worse for some time and will likely continue to do so.

Sudden hearing loss. Your hearing loss happened all at once. And sudden hearing loss doesn’t always happen because of some obvious ear trauma—like an explosion. You can wake up one day and have a clogged feeling in your ears that never goes away. FYI: If you woke up with a clogged feeling in one or more ears call a hearing health specialist immediately. Sometimes sudden hearing loss can be reversed.

Fluctuating hearing loss. This means that your hearing loss may get better or worse over time.

Stable hearing loss. This is used to describe hearing loss that will stay the same.

In addition to all of these different ways your hearing is unique, there’s one last thing that makes your hearing unique to you—your brain. How your brain processes sounds—your personal likes and dislikes of loudness levels and noises are all unique to you. That’s because your hearing takes place in your brain and your affection or aversion to sounds is based on your life experiences and sensitivities. When you lose your hearing, your brain loses the ability to process sounds. When you get hearing aids, your brain works to adjust to the new sounds its hearing.

So think about this—hearing technology has the job of creating a hearing instrument specifically suited to your unique hearing loss and your individual tastes. That’s a big order! When you look at it that way, it makes sense that finding a hearing professional who listens to you and is available to adjust and readjust your hearing instrument to your preferred settings is essential. If you need help finding just such a person, you’ve come to the right place. YourHearing can connect you with a hearing health professional right in your area. Call 800.550.5399 today.

What to expect at a hearing test

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You’ve started to notice that your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, and maybe your friends or family have told you as well. It may be time for a hearing test–the best way to determine what may be causing your hearing loss. But, what if getting screened for hearing loss makes you feel anxious? Read these tips to help you keep the stress out of your hearing exam.

Do it now. Most adults haven’t had their hearing tested since grade school. Based on a MarkeTrak VIII survey on hearing loss in the US, physicians are the top influencing factor whether someone gets hearing aids. Statistics show that only about 15% of doctors ask about their patient’s hearing during their annual physical exam.

If you think you might have hearing loss, make an appointment at a hearing care clinic, where you’ll receive a hearing test and get the chance to speak with hearing professionals about getting fit with hearing aids. Delaying may increase the feeling of stress about doing something, and it may also make it more difficult to treat your hearing loss, if you in fact have one. If this sounds like you, make an appointment today.

Find the right hearing care professional. If you choose to book an appointment with a YourHearing approved clinic, you can feel confident about your choice. While this experience may be new to you, our providers help individuals find the right solution for their hearing loss every day. Our clinics have been carefully screened and credentialed, giving you peace of mind that you’re in good hands.

Bring a buddy. Taking a family member or a close friend with you is helpful in more ways than one. It’s great to have someone you know with you for emotional and moral support, to help you remember information the provider may share, to help with anxious feelings and for the familiar voice during your screening.

Be prepared. You may feel nervous, so knowing what to expect at your hearing exam will help ease the anxiety you have about the experience. Arrive at the clinic 15 minutes before your appointment to check in.

Your hearing professional will usually start with an ear exam. He/she will look into your ears using an instrument called an otoscope to rule out any medical conditions that could be causing hearing loss, like a buildup of wax or an ear infection.

Remember, a hearing test may differ from clinic to clinic and will often rely on an individual's specific hearing issues. Testing may include a pressure test to check the flexibility of your eardrum and its ability to transmit sound, a pure tone hearing test to measure how well you hear different frequencies of sounds (you'll be in a soundproof booth wearing headphones listening to a series of tones from an audiometer at different volumes), and a speech test where your provider will say several one and two syllable words and ask you to repeat them (this test determines how well you understand speech).

Before you head to your appointment, prepare by doing the following:

  • List your hearing loss symptoms. How long have you been experiencing them? Is your hearing loss in one ear or both? Ask your friends and family if they’ve noticed any changes in your hearing.
  • Jot down any important medical information related to your hearing. Have you had any surgeries, chronic infections, injury to your ears or previous ear surgery?
  • Chat about your work history. Tell your hearing care professional if you’ve ever worked at a job that exposed you to loud noise (ex: construction, landscaping, manufacturing, military).
  • Ask questions. Have your questions ready beforehand and follow up with more questions as needed. Sample questions:

Follow-up. If you have a hearing loss, your hearing care professional can suggest hearing aids for you that are suitable for your kind of hearing loss, your lifestyle and your budget. Today’s hearing aids pack a lot of technology in their tiny sizes. So that you can feel comfortable about purchasing hearing aids, YourHearing clinics let you demo them in the office to see how they feel and experience how they work. Call 800.550.5399 today.

Help a loved one get treated for hearing loss

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Does your loved one have a hearing loss? You may recognize the signs before they do–symptoms of hearing loss can be gradual, so the person with the hearing loss may be the last one to recognize them. Here’s how you can help:

The first step is to assess if the person close to you is experiencing some of the common signs of hearing loss.

Do you find that they often:

  • Ask you to repeat things?
  • Complain that everybody seems to be mumbling?
  • Have to strain to hear when someone is speaking?
  • Have difficulty hearing when someone calls from behind or from another room?
  • Listen to the TV or radio at a frustrating, abnormally loud level?
  • Miss a lot of the dialogue when going to the theatre, cinema or other entertainment venues?
  • Have difficulty conversing in noisy environments such as a restaurant or a car?
  • Become more quiet than normal when socializing because they are having difficulty communicating?

If you’ve answered yes to two or more questions, encourage your loved one to schedule a hearing test. Find a qualified hearing care professional close to home who can determine their level of hearing loss and give professional advice, and if hearing aids are needed, can help them find the appropriate pair for their budget, lifestyle and listening needs.

If you get your loved one to accept that they may have a hearing loss and they’re ready for a hearing test, here are some easy ways you can continue to be supportive:

Helping at a hearing test

  • Offer to make the appointment for them.
  • Drive them to their hearing screening so they’re relaxed.
  • Accompany them to their appointment and be the familiar voice during their hearing screening.
  • Be understanding. Even though they are aware that they have a hearing loss, they still could be surprised by their test results.
  • Take notes and ask questions about their hearing loss and treatment options.
  • Help them make informed decisions to improve their quality of life.
  • Set realistic expectations, and continue to encourage them–if they get hearing aids, they may not get used to them over night.

Schedule a hearing test for your loved one today. Call 800.550.5399.

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