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Hearing Loss in East Brunswick, NJ

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates, which specializes in audiology, is located in the Central New Jersey area. If you live in East Brunswick and are having difficulty with hearing, schedule an appointment with our audiologists, Karen K. Herring, M.S. CCC-A and Dr. Rajool Dave, Au. D, CCC-A, who will conduct a comprehensive examination to determine the cause of your hearing loss and inform you of the available treatment options.

Often people are surprised to find out that hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, and that hearing loss is on the rise as well. Approximately 20 percent of all adults have reported some level of hearing loss and almost three percent of all school children are dealing with some form of hearing impairment. People are often unaware that they are experiencing hearing loss, but even mild hearing impairment can reduce a person’s ability to interact effectively with others. In children, hearing loss may complicate learning and/or be mistaken for learning disorders, so it is very important to have your hearing checked regularly.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

There are many factors that may contribute to hearing loss over the course of a person’s life: from one’s age and genetics to trauma or infections. While hearing loss has been a problem for every generation of humans, there are a number of new factors that can contribute to this medical condition, including effects from certain types of medication and a noisier environment. Here is a closer look at some of the most common causes of hearing loss that are prevalent today.


Around 33 percent of people between the ages of 64 and 75 experience hearing loss. After the age of 75, this number increases significantly, to nearly 50 percent of all patients. While age is considered to be the most common cause of hearing loss, researchers are unsure what factors, other than damaged and/or deteriorating soft tissue, cause such a profound impact to those over 75.

A Noisy Environment

Each day the average person is bombarded with a variety of loud noises, such as car engines, music, and work on construction sites. Over time, continued exposure to loud noises can begin to harm the ears and will eventually result in damaged tissue. There are a number of high-risk occupations that can increase the likelihood of hearing loss, this includes carpenters, ambulance drivers, musicians or air traffic controllers, to name a few. Anyone who works in an environment that exposes them to noises of 85 decibels or higher for extended periods can be at risk.

Using ear buds frequently and listening to music at a loud volume is also a leading cause of hearing loss, particularly among teens. Earbuds sit very close to the ear canal, which amplifies the sound significantly, even before the volume is turned up. Young people often listen to music for extended periods of time at a high volume, which can result in permanent hearing loss over a short period of time.

Various Medications

There are a number of medications that can cause temporary hearing loss, problems with balance and/or permanent damage to the delicate components of the ears. There are about 200 medications prescribed today that can adversely affect balance and/or hearing. Many of these medications are quite common and include, erectile dysfunction medications, some types of antibiotics and certain varieties of aspirin. Chemotherapy drugs and loop diuretics are less commonly prescribed, but can have equally negative effects on hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss

About 4,000 patients each year are diagnosed with sudden hearing loss that has no known cause. Hearing losses of up to 30 decibels or more can occur within hours or over several days. Hearing losses of this type generally occur only in one ear and are not necessarily permanent, but can certainly alarm patients and their families. When a sudden loss of hearing occurs, even if the causes are known, it is important to get checked right away.


Trauma to the brain, skull, or eardrums can lead to worsened hearing or even complete hearing loss. The most significant damage occurs when there is a puncture to the eardrum or a skull fracture, but closed head trauma can cause varying levels of hearing loss as well due to damage to the nerve fibers.

Illnesses and Infections

If an infection or illness affects the blood circulating through the internal and external components of the ear, hearing loss can occur as a result. There are a number of common illnesses that can cause hearing loss, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Any condition that causes an increase in ear wax production can also affect hearing.

The Most Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss may occur so slowly and subtly that it is not readily recognized by the person experiencing it. An individual may find that their hearing has gradually been worsening for a decade or longer, and it is often a friend or family member that will mention the condition. With some types of hearing loss, only specific pitches are difficult to detect, either on the extreme high or low end of the hearing frequency. People can lose their ability to hear only specific types of sounds as well, such as a woman’s voice, a crying baby and particularly sounds for the letters “S” and “F”. Some common signs and symptoms of hearing loss can include:

  • A hissing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Responding incorrectly due to misunderstanding what people say.
  • Believing people around you are always mumbling.
  • Family or friends complaining that the television or music is too loud.
  • Difficulty hearing people clearly on the phone.
  • Background noise makes understanding conversation difficult.

Understanding the Levels of Hearing Loss

There are four main levels of hearing loss including, mild, moderate, severe and profound. Depending on the primary cause of the hearing loss, a patient may slowly or quickly progress through these stages, which can ultimately cause them to be cut off from the world around them.


In mild hearing loss, background noise interferes with how well a person can hear a conversation. They may miss the occasional word, but can still follow conversation fairly well.


With moderate hearing loss, the individual will often have to ask others to repeat themselves when they are on the phone or when background noise is present.


Severe hearing loss requires the use of a hearing aid in order to be able to follow the conversation without significant difficulty.


Profound hearing loss is a complete inability to hear conversation without the person speaking extremely loudly or without some form of hearing aid or a cochlear implant.

Effective Hearing Loss Treatment Options

Hearing loss may be partially treated, depending on the severity and cause, and in some instances, the damage may be reversed. When hearing loss is due to an infection or minor tissue scarring, simple changes, such as taking an antibiotic, making dietary changes or taking medications, may improve hearing.

Only around 20 percent of those that could benefit from a hearing aid utilize these devices and many patients are surprised to find that their condition is partially or fully treatable using this technology. Hearing aids have advanced considerably in recent years and many are virtually undetectable and very comfortable to wear.

All hearing aids are designed to amplify sound, but newer digital models can selectively amplify some types of pitches and sounds so that conversation is more readily heard without amplifying background noises as well. If you or a loved one has begun noticing any of the signs of hearing loss, our audiologists can assist you with both traditional treatments, as well as explore any alternative medication or other treatment options.

In addition to developing a treatment plan, the audiologists can also suggest some of the new technology that can assist those with hearing impairments, such as sound-amplifying devices for TVs, radios, and telephones. Cochlear implants are also an option for many people. Even those with permanent hearing loss may benefit from treatments and/or devices that can help them function more readily and engage more fully in day-to-day activities.

Contact Princeton Otolaryngology Associates to schedule a consultation and examination in order to discover whether hearing loss is adversely affecting your quality of life and learn about all the available treatment options.

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