Hearing loss happens when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear or ears. Someone who has hearing loss might be able to hear some sounds or nothing at all. People also may use the words deaf, deafness, or hard of hearing when they're talking about hearing loss.
Prevalence of hearing loss
Hearing loss is common – it is the third most common physical disorder following arthritis and heart disease. Approximately 36 million Americans, or 17 percent or the population, have some form of hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The older a person is, the more likely they are to have hearing loss. By age 65, one in three people has hearing loss. Hearing loss can either be sudden or gradual, and may be mild to severe, and temporary or permanent.
Additional health concerns
Balance disorders are frequently present in those who have hearing problems because the inner ear plays an important role in helping us maintain balance. Because there is a wide variety of possible causes for hearing and balance disorders, they can be difficult to treat. Fortunately, many excellent treatment options can help improve your symptoms or bring you relief.>
Once a hearing loss diagnosis is made, treatment can be determined depending on the severity of the problem.
Removal of excess earwax
Cerumen, or earwax, impaction is the most common, reversible cause of partial hearing loss, and the easiest to treat. An ENT physician may prescribe eardrops to soften the wax, or the earwax may be flushed, scooped, or vacuumed out.
Patients with inner ear damage may benefit from hearing aids which make sounds stronger and easier to hear. Several different hearing aid devices are available and can be fitted and dispensed by an audiologist. Hearing aid options vary depending on the patient’s type of hearing loss and their ear anatomy.
Patients with severe or profound hearing loss may benefit from a cochlear implant, which is different from a hearing aid in that it compensates for non-functioning parts of the inner ear, rather than simply amplifying sound. Usually hearing aids provide no benefit for patients who are being considered for a cochlear implant. A West Medical ENT doctor can help you decide if you may benefit from a cochlear implant.
If you are concerned about hearing loss, contact us at (855) 690-0565 for a consultation. Our expert physicians are happy to see you in our convenient Los Angeles offices, and explain your hearing loss treatment options.
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