Receiving a diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining the type, degree, configuration and symmetry of your hearing loss. Your evaluation includes a variety of measurements to rule out any medically treatable causes of hearing loss.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Have Adverse Effects
The inability to remain alert to everyday environmental sounds and maintain good communication with others can cause not only embarrassment, but could also have serious consequences. A person with a mild to moderate hearing loss may be at risk without knowing it. Research has confirmed that hearing loss can have adverse effects on an individual’s ability to function normally in many different aspects of life. This includes family relationships, enjoyment of social activities, performance in work settings, and potential danger from failing to hear warning devices, or even the inability hear the doctor’s instructions regarding proper use of medications. The 1999 Hearing Industries Association and National Council on Aging study clearly demonstrates that individuals who go untreated for hearing loss report significantly more feelings of depression, paranoia, anger, and frustration than hearing aid users.
What Happens After the Evaluation?
One of our skilled audiologists will perform the diagnostic hearing tests. If testing reveals you are a candidate, we will make an evaluation of your lifestyle and personal goals before determining the best hearing aid style for your particular hearing loss. Your personal decision to wear a hearing aid, combined with realistic expectations, are the first steps to improved hearing.
A Brief Overview of Types of Hearing Loss
Only 5% of hearing losses in the adult population are the result of mechanical or structural damage to the ear (i.e., the outer and/or middle ear). This type of loss is called a conductive hearing loss. Common causes are impacted wax, perforated eardrum, middle ear effusion, otosclerosis, cholesteatoma, and congenital anomalies. In most other cases, the patient can receive partial or complete restoration of hearing through medical/surgical intervention.
In nearly 95% of the adult population with impaired hearing the problem is located in the inner ear (cochlea), resulting in a sensorineural type loss, commonly called “nerve deafness.” In these cases, there is a degeneration or damage to the microscopic hair cells (receptors) or cilia in the inner ear. This causes irreversible hearing loss. In the vast majority of patients, these hair cells will function well if stimulated more vigorously with amplified sounds. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are noise exposure, age, and hereditary predisposition. Other causes can be drugs toxic to the ears, viral and toxic illness, disturbance of the fluids in the inner ear of unknown cause, and invasion of the inner ear by excessive temporal bone growth.
The good news is that individuals who use hearing aids report significantly higher levels of involvement in social activities, fewer worries, and more positive social and family experiences.