Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, and affects almost 36 million Americans. There are a wide variety of causes of hearing loss, including age-related hearing loss, hearing loss due to noise, medications, illness, or as a result of genetic characteristics. The most common cause of hearing loss is aging, and it may result from damage over the course of a lifetime, but 50% of Americans over the age of 75 have some hearing loss. If you are experiencing hearing loss, you should see an ENT specialist for diagnosis and treatment of your problem. Hearing loss can greatly impact your quality of life and your relationships with friends and family.
Medications that include some antibiotics, diuretics, aspirin, chemotherapy drugs, and some medications used to treat erectile dysfunction can all cause hearing loss. Other people experience hearing loss as a result of illness like high blood pressure or diabetes, which cause damage to the blood supply of the ear. Meniere’s disease is an illness that affects the inner ear and results in both vertigo and hearing loss. Otosclerosis is a disease that affects the bones in the middle ear, and it can also cause hearing loss.
Frequent ear infections can result in loss of hearing, and any type of trauma to the head may cause some amount of hearing loss. Some patients have earwax blockage that prevents sound waves from traveling through the ear canal to the ear drum, resulting in loss of hearing.
Hearing loss can occur slowly over time, and you may only notice small difficulties when talking on the phone, or you may think people around you are mumbling. In the early stages, you may not recognize loss of hearing. High pitched sounds are usually the first to go, and some sounds are difficult to distinguish, like “s” or “f.” You may experience difficulty hearing a conversation above background noise, or you can have difficulty following a conversation when more than one person is speaking. You may notice that you have to repeat yourself, or your family members may complain that you have the volume up too high on the television. Some people experience sounds like roaring or ringing in their ears as they develop hearing loss. This is called tinnitus. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should be evaluated by an ENT specialist. Dr. Michael Burnett is one of the top ENT doctors in New York, and he is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with hearing loss.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, you should try to notice how frequently they occur and how much difficulty you are experiencing. Patients who have mild hearing loss can easily understand conversations that are one-on-one, but have more difficulty understanding a conversation if there is noise in the background. Moderate hearing loss will result in the need to ask people around you to frequently repeat what they are saying, both on the telephone and in person. If you have severe hearing loss, you will not be able to follow conversations without a hearing aid. Finally, if your hearing loss is profound, other people will have to be extremely loud in order for you to hear what they are saying. You will need either a hearing aid or a cochlear implant to assist you to understand conversation.
Treatment Options for People With Hearing Loss
Dr. Michael Burnett, a top ENT in New York, can offer patients with hearing loss a variety of treatments that depend upon the reason for hearing loss and the consequences of any damage to the ear. If you have an infection, treatment with antibiotics will often resolve your hearing loss, and if you have hearing loss that has resulted from damage caused by a medication, identification of the medication and substitution with an alternative may give you an opportunity to recover your hearing. Sometimes hearing loss may be caused by scar tissue, infection, or a disease of the bones of the middle ear. In these cases, the problem can sometimes be fixed by surgery.
A top ENT specialist can offer you the best option for treatment of your hearing loss. Cochlear implants are a surgical treatment that is used most frequently with young children who have hearing problems, but use is increasing to treat older patients with profound hearing loss.
If you are experiencing problems with hearing loss, call 212-867-4813 for an appointment with Dr. Michael Burnett, New York’s top ENT doctor.