Hearing loss overview

What is Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is a condition that interferes with one’s ability to understand speech clearly. Hearing loss affects speech recognition and for the majority who are affected by this condition, hinders their ability to understand speech in noisy environments. Approximately 15% of adults in the United States are affected by some form of hearing loss. This number rises with older adults: 25% of 65+ year olds have hearing loss.

Types of hearing loss

There are two main types of hearing loss: sensorineural and conductive.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. This happens when delicate hair cells within the inner ear slowly degrade or even break. These cells are vital in collecting sound signals that are interpreted by the brain. When they die, an impeded or distorted signal is heard by the brain. The brain is what does the “hearing” for us, while the ear is the mechanism that sends the sound to the brain.  Our brain is good at filling in the gaps of the missed signals, but many times it cannot do it correctly. When this occurs, conversations are hard to understand, hearing speech in noise can be difficult and many report having to make devices like the television or the telephone louder. 

Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent. Hearing aids are the most common treatment option for this type of hearing loss. 

Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss occurs gradually and may not be immediately apparent.
For the majority of patients with hearing loss, symptoms occur gradually, and may not be immediately apparent. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible, as hearing loss can affect many different areas of your life. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
  • Being mentally exhausted after long periods of communication.

  • Having trouble understanding others when in restaurants or environments with a great deal of background noise.

  • Asking people to repeat themselves regularly.

  • Having to watch TV at louder volumes than others.

  • Feeling like you hear others but don't understand what they say.

  • Being mentally exhausted after meeting friends

  • Having trouble hearing others when in bars and restaurants

  • Asking people to repeat themselves regularly

  • Having to watch TV at louder volumes than others


The consequences of untreated hearing loss

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in the United States. However, as an invisible condition, it is easy for people to deny or ignore the existence of the condition. This helps explain why hearing aids are used by only a small portion of those who need them.

Many people may delay treatment, but the problem of inaction can be detrimental. Hearing loss has been known to increase the risk for a host of chronic diseases including depression and dementia. It can lead to an increased risk of falling and makes the sufferer more likely to socially isolate themselves. People with hearing loss earn less than their colleagues with normal hearing. Seeking treatment early brings significant benefits.

The benefits of treating hearing loss

Numerous studies have shown that taking action on hearing loss brings important benefits to one’s life and well-being.

Higher earnings

Recent studies have shown that earnings can drop by as much as $30,000 each year for those who do not treat their hearing loss. However, you can minimize this by up to 90 percent if you treat your hearing loss.


A reduced rate of cognitive decline

Regardless of the lifestyle we lead throughout our lives, our brains will not function perfectly forever. Some things can be done to stop the brain from declining. Although research is ongoing, signs are encouraging that treating hearing loss can reduce the risk of dementia. A study by British academics in Manchester, UK has found that hearing aids can arrest cognitive decline by as much as 75%.

Improved relationships with loved ones

People with hearing loss are acutely aware of how much stress it places on their relationships with family, friends and loved ones. Individuals that treat their hearing loss can help rekindle these relationships that have declined. No longer will you have to decline social invitations because you are embarrassed about not being able to understand anyone.  Hearing aids can improve your life significantly!  

If you believe your hearing has changed and you are not understanding others like you used to, we can help!  Schedule an appointment for a hearing examination with us at Greater Atlanta Hearing.