Seeing may be believing, but hearing is just as important. Without your hearing, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your favorite song or listen to a loved one’s voice. According to the National Institute of Health, a third of the United States population over 65 has some type of hearing loss.

Not being able to hear is frustrating because it can make you feel unaware or left out. It’s dangerous if you’re unable to hear noises such as car horns or smoke alarms. When you notice that your ears are creating an obstacle in your daily routine, seek help.

There are two main types of hearing loss. Presbycusis is an ear disorder that appears slowly as you age. It’s genetic and affects hearing in both ears. Tinnitus causes a ringing or hissing noise in your ear. It can be permanent or it can disappear after a certain amount of time. Tinnitus may indicate other health problems, such as high blood pressure or allergies. Though it is unclear what exactly brings these problems on, here is a list of possible causes:

  • Loud noises that damage the inner ear
  • Excessively loud music
  • Ear wax or fluid buildup
  • A punctured eardrum, caused by putting things in your ear
  • Stroke, tumor, or certain viruses

Fortunately, there are a number of hearing devices that can help:

  • Hearing Aids: Electronic devices that fit in your ear and amplify sound. There are a variety of hearing aids, so you pick one that is just right for you.
  • Cochlear Implants: Electronic devices that are surgically put under your skin and used for severe hearing loss.
  • Other Options:
    • A telephone-amplifying device turns up the voice of the person with whom you are speaking
    • TV/radio listening systems let you reduce background noise
    • Alert systems send you a visual sign or vibration when someone is at the door or a phone is ringing

If you are suffering from hearing loss, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to let people know. Ask them to speak louder or slower so that you can understand them. Pay attention to facial expressions or hand gestures. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Can you repeat that?” If your ears are causing a problem in your everyday life, notify your doctor so you can explore some helpful options.

Sources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003044.htm

Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living