497 Azalea Drive Suite 101 Oxford, MS 38655
(662) 234-1337

Hearing loss has a lot of different causes and manifestations. It can be sudden or gradual. It can occur in one ear or both ears. It can be temporary or permanent. It happens to people of all ages and is associated with the aging process. Before discussing causes and treatments for hearing loss, it is important to understand how hearing works.

How We Hear

There are three sections of the ear: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each section helps move sound through the process of hearing. When a sound occurs, the outer ear feeds it through the ear canal to the eardrum. The noise causes the eardrum to vibrate. This, in turn, causes three little bones inside the middle ear (malleus, incus, stapes) to move. That movement travels into the inner ear (cochlea), where it makes tiny little hairs move in a fluid. These hairs convert the movement to auditory signals, which are then transmitted to the brain to register the sound.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss occurs when sound is blocked in any of the three areas of the ear. The most common cause of hearing loss — and one of the most preventable — is exposure to loud noises. Infections, both of the ear or elsewhere in the body, are also a major contributor to hearing loss.

  • In the Outer Ear: Earwax build-up, infections that cause swelling, a growth in the ear canal, injury or birth defects can restrict hearing in the outer ear.
  • In the Middle Ear: Fluid build-up is responsible for the most common infections and blockages in the middle ear. Fluid in the middle ear prevents the bones from processing sounds properly. Tumors, both benign and malignant, can also result in hearing loss in the middle ear.
  • In the Inner Ear: The natural process of aging diminishes hearing from damage to the cochlea (mechanism for converting sound vibrations to brain signals), vestibular labyrinth (which regulates balance), or the acoustic nerve (nerve that sends sound signals to the brain). Additionally, inner ear infections, Meniere's disease and other nerve-related problems contribute to hearing loss in the inner ear.

Other causes of hearing loss include:

  • Presbycusis: Age-related hearing loss, such as having difficulty hearing in noisy places, having trouble understanding what people are saying or not registering softer sounds.
  • Heredity and Genetic Causes: There is a wide variety of diseases and syndromes that are either genetic or hereditary that can cause hearing loss. Some, like rubella (German measles) occur when a pregnant mother has the disease, which causes hearing loss in the baby. Other, rarer types of hereditary and genetic causes include CHARGE Syndrome, Connexin 26 disorder, Goldenhar Syndrome,Treacher Collins Syndrome, Usher Syndrome, Waardenburg Syndrome and otosclerosis (growth of spongy bone tissue in the middle ear).

Most causes of outer ear hearing loss can be remedied. But problems of the middle and inner ear can lead to permanent hearing loss, which is why it is important to seek medical attention quickly if you are experiencing a problem hearing.

back to top


Types of Hearing Loss

There are five types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss: Caused by conditions that block the transmission of sound through the outer ear and eardrum to the middle ear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Inner ear damage that occurs as part of the natural process of aging.
  • Mixed hearing loss: Mixed hearing loss refers to people who have both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Most people experience more than one type of hearing loss.
  • Central hearing loss: This occurs when the central nervous system fails to send a readable signal to the brain, which is called a central auditory processing disorder. People with central hearing loss generally can hear all sounds, but can’t separate or process them.

Hearing loss is measured in four degrees: mild, moderate, severe or profound. The degree of hearing loss drives the selection of the best form of treatment on a case-by-case basis.

back to top


Hearing Loss Treatments

The location, type and degree of hearing loss impact the choice of treatments for any hearing problem. The most common treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics, decongestants and pain medication to overcome ear infections.
  • Myringotomy, a piercing of the eardrum to allow for fluids to drain out of the outer ear.
  • Insertion of a tube into the Eustachian tube (part of the anatomy that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat) to keep it open and allow for normal fluid drainage. This technique may be recommended for people who get frequent ear infections.
  • Hearing aids.
  • Surgery to remove benign or malignant tumors or correct bone- or nerve-related problems.

If you experience sudden or prolonged hearing loss with dizziness, fever or pain, please contact our office right away and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists. We'll conduct a physical examination as well as a hearing test to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. We'll then recommend the best treatment.

back to top


Hearing loss 101

Signs of Hearing Loss 

The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or early signs of hearing loss can be significant and come about suddenly. Either way, there are common indications and hearing impaired signs. You should suspect hearing loss if you experience any of the signs below.

Socially:

  • require frequent repetition.
  • have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
  • think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling.
  • have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
  • have trouble hearing children and women.
  • have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
  • answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
  • have ringing in your ears.
  • read lips or more intently watch people's faces when they speak with you.

Emotionally:

  • feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
  • feel annoyed at other people because you can't hear or understand them.
  • feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
  • feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
  • withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.

Medically:

  • have a family history of hearing loss.
  • take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).
  • have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems.
  • have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.

back to top


Myths about Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects only "old people" and is merely a sign of aging.

Only 35% of people with hearing loss are older than age 64. There are close to six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss, and more than one million are school age. Hearing loss affects all age groups.

If I had hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me.

Not true! Only 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor's office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem. Without special training, and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem.

My hearing loss cannot be helped.

In the past, many people with hearing loss in one ear, with a high frequency hearing loss, or with nerve damage have all been told they cannot be helped, often by their family practice physician. This might have been true many years ago, but with modern advances in technology, nearly 95% of people with a sensorineural hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids. 

The consequences of hiding hearing loss are better than wearing hearing aids.

What price are you paying for vanity? Untreated hearing loss is far more noticeable than hearing aids. If you miss a punch line to a joke, or respond inappropriately in conversation, people may have concerns about your mental acuity, your attention span or your ability to communicate effectively. The personal consequences of vanity can be life altering. At a simplistic level, untreated hearing loss means giving up some of the pleasant sounds you used to enjoy. At a deeper level, vanity could severely reduce the quality of your life.

Hearing aids will make me look "older" and "handicapped."

Looking older is clearly more affected by almost all other factors besides hearing aids. It is not the hearing aids that make one look older, it is what one may believe they imply. If hearing aids help you function like a normal hearing person, for all intents and purposes, the stigma is removed. Hearing aid manufacturers are well aware that cosmetics is an issue to many people, and that's why today we have hearing aids that fit totally in the ear canal. This CIC style of hearing aid has enough power and special features to satisfy most individuals with hearing impairment. But more importantly, keep in mind that "an untreated hearing loss is more obvious than a hearing aid." Smiling and nodding your head when you don't understand what's being said, makes your condition more apparent than the largest hearing aid.

back to top


Current Hearing Aid Technology

ReSound: LiNX 3D

HEAR 80% MORE OF THE SOUNDS AROUND YOU

Imagine talking to your colleagues against a backdrop of whirring blenders, chopping knives and sizzling pans. With ReSound LiNX 3D, it’s easier than you think. That’s because these hearing aids are the best at recognizing voices, and use advanced technology to make them heard. And you’ll hear conversations from all directions, even in shifting background noise.

Sometimes the hearing aid settings you like in the clinic perform differently in your everyday life. If you’re experiencing recurring problems – or need more fine-tuning than that ReSound Smart 3D app offers - ask your hearing care professional about ReSound Assist.

If you want to learn more about the ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, call us today at (662) 234-1337 and schedule an appointment to talk to one of our audiologists.

back to top

    

Other locations:


Dr. John Laurenzo, Dr. Bradford Dye, Dr. Pearson Windham & Dr. Scott Harrison
497 Azalea Drive Suite 101
Oxford MS 38655

Dr. Bradford Dye
1300 Sunset Dr. Suite T
Grenada, MS 38902

Dr. Pearson Windham and Ansley Vanlandingham, NP
810 E. Sunflower Road, Suite 100L
Cleveland MS 38732

Dr. Scott Harrison
303 Medical Center Drive, Suite A
Batesville, MS 38606

Dr. Scott Harrison and Dr. Bradford Dye
118 Fairfield Drive
New Albany MS 38652

497 Azalea Drive Suite 101
Oxford, MS 38655