Second Opinion: How common is hearing loss and what causes it?

More than 28 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Although it is the natural result of aging, hearing loss isn’t only found in older adults. In fact, nearly half of the people with hearing loss are below the age of 65. It can also result from heredity, exposure to loud noise, birth defects, illness, head trauma and certain medications.

There are different types of hearing loss. Conductive loss occurs when sound waves are prevented from passing to the inner ear. This can be caused by something as simple as a build-up of earwax, or by infection, fluid in the middle ear or a punctured eardrum.  Sensorineural loss develops when the auditory nerve or hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by aging, noise, illness, injury, infection, trauma, toxic medications or an inherited condition. Mixed loss is a combination of these two types. A Conductive loss can often be corrected with medical or surgical treatment, while Sensorineural loss usually cannot be reversed.  On the basis of hearing evaluation results, an audiologist can determine whether hearing aids will help in your particular situation.

Lauren A. Matsko,
Au.D., MPH

Maico Audiological Services