We test hundreds of patients every year. Some are diagnosed with mild hearing loss, others with profound. Others come out the test beaming when we tell them that they have great hearing and should come see us again in a year. But there is one sentence that we tend to hear over and over again. “How did I let my hearing get so bad?!”
If you have hearing loss, you have probably thought the same thing. Trust me, you are not alone. In this blog post, I will outline some of the causes of hearing loss. Some are obvious. Others, a little more sneaky. But regardless of what may have caused your hearing loss, our advice is to get tested so you know where your hearing is at.
Most hearing loss is gradual and slowly progressing. It doesn’t happen all out once or we would certainly notice it. If you have worked with me before you have probably heard my “change jar” analogy. For those of you that haven’t heard it, it is a pretty simple concept. Hearing loss is similar to somebody coming into your home every night you are asleep and taking one nickel from your change jar. You would likely not notice when one nickel is missing. You probably wouldn’t notice if a dozen nickels were gone. But if this change thief kept stealing from you every night for 25 years it would start to add up.
That is the concept behind hearing loss. It’s a little bit here and a little bit there. But eventually turning the TV volume up by a notch or two and the radio dial a little higher adds up to significant levels of loss. This is also why most people wait so long to take action. Because hearing loss is a slowly developing problem, they are able to compensate and make small adjustments to their lifestyle to get by. But nobody should have to do this! Hearing loss isn’t a matter of life and death. But it is a matter of quality of life.
Lets talk about the most obvious cause for hearing loss, something blocking your ear canal. This could be earwax, fluid, a tumor, dirt, debris or an ear infection. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive loss and makes up approximately 20% of all hearing loss. This is also the easiest to treat as it usually involves clearing the canal by removing the wax or taking medication to get rid of an ear infection.
The next most obvious cause of hearing loss is age. As we get older our bodies are not functioning in the way we would like them to. The nerves in our cochlea require more volume to be stimulated. So instead of hearing a whisper we have to be yelled at to hear certain voices. But age isn’t the only thing that can cause hearing loss.
Diabetics are twice a likely to deal with the effects of hearing loss. Because the ears are so vascular, things like diabetes and other cardiovascular disorders can contribute to hearing loss. People that have suffered heart attacks or strokes are also likely to see increased hearing loss.
Another cause of hearing loss is oto-toxic medications. These are medications that have an adverse effect on your hearing. Chemotherapy and radiation are often oto-toxic. But of course, they serve an important purpose and dealing with the side effects it has on hearing is unavoidable. But there are other medications that can be oto-toxic. Strong antibiotics can be ototoxic. So can certain anti-depressants. Doctors have even found asprin and ibuprofen to be oto-toxic at certain doses.
But none of this really matters does it? Its good to know how you got to this point, but once you are here you are stuck. We can’t go back and fix any of the things that caused our hearing loss. All we can do is move forward to correct our hearing problem.
If you have noticed changes in your hearing. If you have noticed the TV volume creeping higher and higher. Or if you have noticed conversations around the dinner table are becoming more and more difficult, call us and book an appointment. Regardless of HOW you got into this situation, we will tell you WHAT you can do to fix it!