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Ask the Audiologist

By Dana Luzon, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA –

Ask the AudiologistAccording to the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss is now the third most common health problem in the country today, behind only arthritis and heart disease with more than 50 million Americans suffering from its effects. There are some common questions I get from patients in regards to their hearing, hearing loss and hearing aids so I would like to answer a few of the most common:

How does hearing work?
Sounds start as moving waves and enter the ear canal, and then the sound will vibrate your eardrum and send the signal through your middle ear bones, to your permanent hearing organs or your cochleas. Then the cochleas transmit the sound to the brain to be processed into speech and other sound information.  The brain takes the sound coming from both ears to be able to tell where sound is coming from.

What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors.  There are a few major factors that can additively affect hearing:

  • Genetics- Hearing loss can have a familial link.
  • Natural Aging Process- the slow deterioration of hearing over time can get more progressive the higher up in age we go.
  • Toxicity/Trauma- Head trauma or a fall can sometimes affect the physical parts of the ear which transmit sound.  Some medications are toxic to the ears (ototoxic). See this pdf for more information on ototoxic medications: www.chchearing.org/sites/default/files/Ototoxic_Brochure.pdf
  • Noise Exposure- Two types of sound exposure can cause noise-induced hearing loss: prolonged noise exposure or a sudden, loud, single burst of sound like a bang from a firecracker. Always wear hearing protection if you are in a high noise environment to prevent any hearing loss.

Will my hearing get worse?
There are no predictions when it comes to hearing loss changes.  I recommend baseline hearing evaluations if you feel you are having difficulty. Then as years go on, if you feel your hearing has changed or after exposure to dangerously loud noises, your hearing can be re-tested and compared to previous results.

Is there any surgery that can help correct hearing loss?
90% of hearing loss is permanent and cannot be corrected with medication or surgery, however with hearing devices such as hearing aids and assistive listening devices we can get better speech understanding in a variety of difficult listening environments. There are 10% of patients who may be a candidate for medical intervention.  If determined by your audiologist during your appointment that your hearing loss is correctable, a medical referral to your primary care physician or ENT specialist will be determined at that time.

What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often referred to as ringing in the ears and is most commonly associated with noise exposure.  By definition it is perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present.  While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatments and therapies used to reduce the impact of tinnitus in your everyday life. A tinnitus evaluation can be performed by an Audiologist in conjunction with hearing testing.

Why I need two hearing aids?
Hearing happens at the level of the brain.  If you are diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears, it will always be medically recommended to correct the loss in both ears because the brain needs sound coming through both of your ears equally and evenly to process the best signal possible. Using just one hearing aid when a hearing test result indicates that you need two, reduces your brain’s hearing and understanding by 50%.

 Is there any surgery that can help correct hearing loss?
90% of hearing loss is permanent and cannot be corrected with medication or surgery, however with hearing devices such as hearing aids and assistive listening devices we can get better speech understanding in a variety of difficult listening environments. There are 10% of patients who may be a candidate for medical intervention.  If determined by your audiologist during your appointment that your hearing loss is correctable, a medical referral to your primary care physician or ENT specialist will be determined at that time.

What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often referred to as ringing in the ears and is most commonly associated with noise exposure.  By definition it is perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present.  While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatments and therapies used to reduce the impact of tinnitus in your everyday life. A tinnitus evaluation can be performed by an Audiologist in conjunction with hearing testing.

Why I need two hearing aids?
Hearing happens at the level of the brain.  If you are diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears, it will always be medically recommended to correct the loss in both ears because the brain needs sound coming through both of your ears equally and evenly to process the best signal possible. Using just one hearing aid when a hearing test result indicates that you need two, reduces your brain’s hearing and understanding by 50%.

If you are interested in learning more about hearing loss and hearing health, attend one of my free seminars on hearing on the following dates from 11:30am to 1:30pm with
complimentary lunch included:

November 14th 2012, January 22nd 2013,
February 6th 2013

Location: Duffy’s Sports Grill, 11588 US
Highway #1, North Palm Beach, FL Call today
to RSVP 561-536-5557.

Audiology & Hearing Aids
of the Palm Beaches, Inc.

4266 Northlake Blvd
Palm Beach Gardins, FL 33410

561.536.5557
www.hearingcarefl.com

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