Hearing Loss in Princeton, NJ
If you live in the Princeton area and are having problems with your hearing, come see Karen K. Herring, M.S. CCC-A and Dr. Rajool Dave, Au. D, CCC-A, of Princeton Otolaryngology Associates. Audiology is our specialty and we’ll carefully test your hearing to discover the cause of your hearing loss and will work with you to find the best treatment.
Hearing loss is a lot more common than you might think. Around 20 percent of adults and three percent of school children experience hearing impairment. This often results in a decrease in the quality of life. You might have trouble following conversations, especially in crowded environments. Hearing loss can negatively impact both your personal and professional life.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
People suffer hearing loss for a variety of reasons, including genetics, trauma, and infections. The most common causes of hearing loss include:
Though researchers aren’t sure of the reasons why, getting older seems to be the biggest cause of hearing loss. Approximately 33 percent of people between 64 and 75 years of age have some level of hearing loss. After age 75, rates jump to about 50 percent. For many, gradual loss of hearing seems to be just a fact of life.
Constant exposure to loud noises can make you more likely to succumb to hearing loss. These days, the average person is bombarded with a variety of noises, from car horns and loud radios to lawnmowers and power tools. If you’ve lived or worked in an environment where you were regularly exposed to noises that are 85 decibels or higher, you’re more at risk than other individuals. Musicians, carpenters, air traffic controllers and ambulance drivers are some of the careers that are most at-risk to suffer from some degree of hearing loss.
Certain medications have side effects that range from temporary hearing loss to permanent damage to the ears. Some common examples are erectile dysfunction pills, loop diuretics, chemotherapy drugs and some forms of aspirin and antibiotics. If you’re concerned about hearing loss, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about these possible side effects.
Sudden Hearing Loss
About 4,000 patients each year experience “sudden hearing loss,” which includes any hearing loss of 30 decibels or more over a short period of time. Typically, it only occurs in one ear and there is no apparent cause for the hearing loss.
When a person experiences any type of trauma to the brain, skull or eardrums, it can greatly affect their hearing, including the possibility of complete hearing loss. In most cases, the hearing loss occurs when the eardrum is penetrated or the skull is fractured.
Certain illnesses can cause hearing loss, especially if they affect the blood flow in and around the ear. Some common causes of hearing loss are diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Naturally, any illness that causes an increase in wax buildup will also cause problems with hearing.
The Most Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Sometimes, hearing loss happens so slowly that a person might not even realize he or she is experiencing hearing loss. People make slight adjustments to their lives such as turning the volume of the TV higher or asking people to repeat themselves. Many times, it’s a friend or relative who first recognizes the problem and encourages their loved one to seek treatment. Signs and symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty hearing certain pitches or sounds, such as a woman’s voice or the “S” and “F” sounds.
- Hissing or ringing in the ear (tinnitus).
- Giving incorrect responses in conversation due to misunderstanding the question.
- Difficulty having conversations on the phone.
- The belief that others are mumbling when they speak.
- Trouble following conversations in crowded areas or places where there is a lot of background noise.
The Different Levels of Hearing Loss
Everyone experiences hearing loss differently. We classify hearing loss as mild, moderate, severe and profound. In many cases, a patient progresses from mild to severe or profound hearing loss over years. Obviously, mild cases are easier to adapt to, but recent medical developments are making it a lot easier to survive and thrive in today’s society, no matter what level of hearing loss you might suffer from.
Those suffering from mild hearing loss typically only have trouble hearing when there is background noise. For instance, it might be hard to have a conversation in a restaurant or when it’s windy outside. These people tend to miss occasional words, but are able to understand most of the conversation.
People who have moderate hearing loss will often find that they need to ask people to repeat themselves. It’s difficult to carry on a conversation on the phone or in places with background noise. It takes a lot of concentration to follow a conversation.
Someone suffering from severe hearing loss is not likely to be able to carry on a normal conversation without some type of hearing device.
Those with profound hearing loss can only hear conversations when the other person is speaking extremely loud. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are necessary and can help in this situation.
Effective Hearing Loss Treatment Options
Fortunately, there is help for most people who suffer from hearing loss. Treatment methods vary depending on severity, but partial treatment and damage reversal may be possible. With minor tissue scarring or hearing loss caused by infections, taking antibiotics, other medication or a change in diet can help.
Hearing aids are able to partially or fully treat many cases of hearing loss. Surprisingly, only about 20 percent of the people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them. If you or someone you love has started noticing some of the signs of hearing loss, one of our qualified audiologists can test your hearing and discuss treatment options with you. These options include traditional treatments and alternative drug options.
There have been great strides made in the types of technologies that improve hearing. Modern hearing aids can be comfortable and practically invisible, depending on the type you choose. Cochlear implants are another option for some people. Even those who have permanent hearing loss may find that they benefit from some of the latest products.
If you think that you might be experiencing hearing loss, set up an appointment with Princeton Otolaryngology Associates. We’ll be able to diagnose your problems and discuss your treatment options.