Hearing Loss

Causes of Hearing Loss


  • Congenital hearing loss (born with a hearing loss)
  • Noise exposure
  • Natural effects of aging (presbycusis)
  • Ototoxic medications (medications that damage the inner ear)
  • Genetics
  • Stroke or vascular insult to the inner ear
  • Disease, such as Meniere’s disease, bacterial meningitis, or otosclerosis

Types of Hearing Loss

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Prevalence of Hearing Loss

Age Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis)
  • 30% to 35% of adults aged 65 to 75.
  • 40% to 50% of adults aged 75 years and older.
Congenital Hearing Loss
  • 5 to 6 infants per 1000 born with some degree of hearing loss
  • 2 to 3 infants per 1000 born with moderate to profound hearing loss bilaterally (in both ears)
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
  • 12.5% of children aged 6 – 19 years (5.2 million)
  • 17% of adults aged 20 – 69 years (26 million)
Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infection)
  • The most common medical diagnosis in preschool-aged children.
  • Approximately 90% of children have at least one episode by age 2 years.
  • Approximately 30% of children have at least 6 episodes by age 7 years

Effects of Hearing Loss

Adults

  • Speech and other sounds seem muffled
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially in background noise or a crowd
  • Frequently misunderstands what is said and asks for things to be repeated
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Difficulty identifying and localizing sounds
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

Children

  • Speech-language delays, unclear speech, limited or no spoken language
  • Difficult to consistently get your child’s attention Your child frequently says “huh” or “what”
  • Your child responds inconsistently to sound
  • History of ear infections and/or ear aches
  • Your child seems to watch the speaker’s face carefully when talking
  • Your child’s own voice seems to soft or too loud
  • Your child turns the radio or television louder than normal
  • Your child confuses sounds that are similar
  • Your child often answers a question with an unrelated answer
  • Your child seems inattentive at home or at school
  • Unexplained behavioral problems

Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Adults

  • Improve the ability to effectively communicate
  • Help prevent the social isolation that can occur when someone has a hearing loss
  • Improve awareness of environmental sounds

Children

  • Improve speech and language development
  • Improve learning in school
  • Improve social interactions and the ability to make friends
  • Improve the ability to effectively communicate
  • Improve awareness of environmental sounds

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Levels that can cause permanent hearing loss:

  • Exposure to sounds over 120 dB
  • Extended or repeated exposure to sounds over 85 dB
Typical Sound Levels:

firearms

140 dB

jackhammer

130 dB

siren

120 dB

lawn mower

106 dB

hand drill

100 dB

passing motorcycle

90 dB

hair dryer, food processor

80 - 90 dB

vacuum cleaner

70 dB

typical conversation

60 dB

moderate rainfall

50 dB