Hearing Loss in Princeton and Monroe, NJ
Located in the Central New Jersey area, and serving the communities of Princeton, Plainsboro and other nearby cities, Princeton Otolaryngology Associates specializes in audiology. If you live in New Jersey and have a hearing issue, come visit our audiologists, Karen K. Herring, M.S. CCC-A and Dr. Rajool Dave, Au. D, CCC-A, who will examine your hearing problem, find its cause and determine the best treatment.
Many individuals are surprised to find out that hearing loss is not only the third most common health problem in the United States, but that this health problem also on the rise. Currently, around 20 percent of all adults have reported some level of hearing loss with nearly 3 percent of all school children dealing with some form of hearing impairment. Those that are struggling with these medical issues will immediately notice a loss in their quality of life, a difficulty with conversations, and potentially even an inability to maintain a career.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
There are a wide variety of factors that may contribute to hearing loss throughout the years ranging from one’s age and genetics to trauma and infections. While hearing loss has been a problem for every generation of humans, there are a number of new contributors to this medical condition including modern medication and even a noisier environment. Here is a closer look at some of the most common causes of hearing loss that continue to take place today.
Around 33 percent of everyone between the ages of 64 and 75 experiences hearing loss, making it the number one cause of this medical condition. Unfortunately, after the age of 75 this number skyrockets to nearly 50 percent of all patients. While age is considered to be the most common cause of hearing loss, researchers are unsure of why age impacts one’s hearing outside of damaged and deteriorating soft tissue.
A Noisy Environment
Every single day the average human is bombarded with a variety of noises such as car engines, the radio, and power tools. Over time, the continued exposure to loud noises can begin to harm the ears and will eventually result in damaged tissue. Currently, the most at-risk careers for hearing loss include carpenters, ambulance drivers, musicians, and air traffic controllers. Essentially, anyone that works in an environment that leaves them exposed to noises of 85 decibels or higher for an extended period are at risk.
There are a number of medications that have been attributed to temporary hearing loss, a loss of balance and permanent damage to components of the ears. Currently, around 200 medications that are still prescribed today have been shown to affect one’s balance or hearing. The most common medications in this list include chemotherapy drugs, loop diuretics, erectile dysfunction pills, antibiotics, and certain forms of aspirin.
Sudden Hearing Loss
Only around 4,000 patients a year are diagnosed with sudden hearing loss with no apparent cause. This includes hearing loss of 30 decibels or more within just a few hours or days. In most instances, this hearing loss only takes place in one ear.
Any trauma to the brain, skull, or ear drums can lead to worsened hearing or complete hearing loss. This generally happens if the skull is fractured or the ear drum is punctured.
Illnesses and Infections
If an infection or illness affects blood going to the internal and external components of the ear, hearing loss may occur. Illnesses that are often attributed to hearing loss include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and any conditions that increase the body’s production of ear wax.
The Most Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Just as with senses such as vision, the deterioration is often so slow that it goes almost unnoticed. An individual may find that their hearing has slowly been worsening for a decade or longer, and it is often a friend or family member that will bring up the condition. In some situations, there may only be certain pitches or sounds that become difficult to detect such as a woman’s voice, a child crying, or “S” and “F” sounds. Other common signs and symptoms of hearing loss include:
- A hissing or ringing sound (often caused by tinnitus)
- Continuously having to ask people to repeat themselves
- Misunderstanding what people say and giving the wrong response
- A feeling that people are constantly mumbling or slurring their words
- Complaints by others that the TV or radio is too loud
- Trouble keeping up with phone conversations
- Difficulty understanding a conversation with background noises
Understanding the Levels of Hearing Loss
There are four primary classifications of hearing loss including mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Depending on the primary causes of the hearing loss, a patient may slowly or quickly progress through these stages as they become more cut off from the world around them.
Mild hearing loss is generally taking place when background noises affect how easily one follows a conversation, and they miss the occasional word.
With moderate hearing loss, the individual will often have to ask others to repeat themselves when on the phone or with any background noise whatsoever.
Without a hearing aid, following a typical conversation is nearly impossible at this stage.
A patient is diagnosed with profound hearing loss if they can no longer follow a conversation whatsoever without the individual talking extremely loud. Without some form of hearing aid or a cochlear implant, conversations will not be possible.
Effective Hearing Loss Treatment Options
Depending on the severity and cause of the hearing loss, the condition may be partially treated, or the damage may be reversed. In cases such as an infection or minor tissue scarring, simple changes such as going on antibiotics, changing one’s diet, or taking certain medications may improve hearing.
Only around 20 percent of those that are eligible for a hearing aid utilize these devices, and many patients are surprised to find that their condition is partially or fully treatable with this technology. If you or a loved one has begun noticing any of these signs of hearing loss, our audiologist can assist you with both traditional treatments and alternative drug options.
There are now more devices than ever for those that would like to improve their everyday quality of life after struggling with hearing loss. This includes cochlear implants as well as sound-amplifying devices for TVs, radios, and telephones. Even patients with permanent hearing loss may benefit from treatments and devices that will help them function with the hearing that they do have each and every day.
Contact Princeton Otolaryngology Associates for a hearing consultation if you think you have a hearing issue and are in need of professional testing for hearing loss or damage. Our practice serves patients throughout the neighboring communities of Princeton and Plainsboro.