Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Overview

Hearing loss can affect anyone. With 37.5 million American adults experiencing some form of hearing loss, it’s likely you or a loved one have trouble making sense of sounds and conversations. Some of this might feel familiar – asking people to repeat themselves, turning up the television, feeling exhausted after social interactions.

The good news is you don’t have to live with this frustration. A simple hearing test can help identify the source and severity of your hearing loss and get you on the road to good hearing health!

Whether you’ve never had a hearing test before, or it’s been a while, here are some great reasons to schedule that screening.

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Reason One: Setting a hearing “baseline.”

​Especially if you’ve never had a hearing test in the past, doing it now will set a baseline for the future. Along with regular screenings as you age, this baseline allows your hearing care professional to monitor your hearing over time. They may also catch any issues you might not detect on your own, allowing for early intervention. Hopkins Medicine recommends having a baseline hearing test between the ages of 21 and sixty.

Reason Two: Hearing tests are painless.

It’s true – hearing tests are quick, easy, and painless. So, there’s no reason to put it off. In a nutshell, here’s what you can expect. You won’t feel any discomfort during the test, and you don’t have to prepare (or study!). Your hearing care professional will ask you to listen to a series of tones and sounds to determine how well you can hear. After going over the results, they’ll work with you to find a solution that works best for your hearing needs.

Reason Three: Hearing tests are the first step to treating hearing loss.

​You might think that you can’t do anything about your hearing loss, or that it’s just a fact of life. That might have been true in the past, but today’s hearing aid technology is super-advanced and exciting. Whether you have mild, moderate, or profound hearing loss – or even suffer from conditions like tinnitus – having a hearing test by a hearing care professional can uncover these issues and point you toward the right treatment.

​Reason Four: Undiagnosed hearing loss can be unhealthy.

Research shows that undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of cognitive decline. Struggling to hear and make sense of sound can cause your brain to become fatigued, making it difficult to perform other tasks. And, when it’s hard to hear, you tend to avoid social situations – which reduces brain stimulation over time. Getting a hearing test and proper hearing aids can keep your ears AND brain feeling sharper.


Around one in eight people over the age of 12 in the United States presenting hearing loss in both ears, it makes it one of the leading chronic health issues in the country. Yet, according to a survey conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, people are much more likely to have their vision tested than to undergo a hearing exam.

We can all agree that healthy hearing helps to support a vibrant and connected life. But more than that, leaving hearing loss undiagnosed and untreated can contribute to emotional and mental disorders like feelings of isolation and depression. It can also cause disruption in our closest relationships. With many studies revealing a close connection between untreated hearing loss and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia, why wait to get yours tested?

Understanding Hearing Loss

While there are many causes of hearing loss, the greatest predictor of hearing loss continues to be age. One in three Americans over the age of 65 has hearing loss, due primarily to the natural aging process.
Anatomical model of Human ear held by audiologist in front of another audiologist with a patient.

Types of hearing loss

Fundamentally, there are two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. In cases of conductive hearing loss, an obstruction, most commonly ear wax, is impeding sound from entering the inner ear. In a vast majority of cases, the obstacle can be removed and hearing is restored. It can also be caused by a genetic (inherited) disorder.

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the inner ear is damaged and sound isn’t effectively received to be transmitted to the brain. This can include the important parts of the inner ear as well as the nerves that carry sound to the brain’s processing centers. The causes of this type of hearing loss are most likely age-related or noise-induced and while it can be treated, there is no cure to completely restore hearing.

Old man with concerned look on his face holding his ear

Age-related hearing loss

The natural aging process can wear away at the integral inner ear cells responsible for receiving sound information from the external world. These cells are delicate and non-regenerative. That means that once they have been damaged, they do not heal themselves or produce new cells to replace them. The effect is that we have less sound information to send to the brain and our experience is a loss of hearing.
Woman in loud working environment wearing safety gear

Noise-induced hearing loss

The damage of exposure to excessive noise can also harm those sensitive cells of the inner ear. You can be exposed to dangerously loud noise all at once, such as in an explosion or accident. But, more insidiously, you can also be exposed to noise that is too loud repeatedly and over time, eventually resulting in loss of hearing. Factory and farm workers, people in the military, and musicians have high incidences of noise-induced hearing loss because of their noisy occupations. However, we find ourselves exposed to excessively loud noises in everyday events and recreational activities, too.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is notoriously difficult to self-diagnose. In most cases, we lose our ability to hear frequencies along the spectrum gradually, instead of an overall lowering of volume. This means that as adaptable creatures, we can make accommodations for early instances of hearing loss sometimes without even noticing that we aren’t communicating like we used to.

People tend to lose high-frequency sound first. These are higher pitches, like a child’s voice or birdsong. Lower frequency sounds, like a deep voice or bass notes, will probably stick around a while longer. For this reason, speech clarity is one of the first signs of hearing loss. It may seem to you that everyone around you is mumbling their words. You might find yourself asking ‘what?’ more often in conversation. Over time, you might cope by withdrawing from chatting with neighbors and friends or avoiding telephone calls with loved ones. Our hearing loss is often first noticed by our friends and family members, who can also be the greatest motivating factor for intervening in hearing loss.

Little girl learning to knit with her grandparents

Choose Healthy Hearing

Hearing loss is a treatable condition and proactive monitoring of your hearing health can make an impact on how long you experience its implications before choosing a more vibrant hearing life.

Our team of hearing health professionals is here to guide you through the easy process of a hearing exam. From there, we’ll help you understand any patterns of hearing loss that is present. Together, we’ll find the path to your healthiest hearing future.

Schedule an appointment for a consultation today!