Offered by: John Wilson, B.S., BC-HIS – Blue Ribbon Hearing & Tinnitus Center
Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. Some people are born with it. Others lose their hearing from disease, illness, trauma, or noise exposure. For some, the stigma of hearing loss is enough for them to deny they have a problem. For others, having witnessed a family member or loved one battle with hearing problems later in life is incentive to treat their own hearing loss sooner rather than later.
When a person loses hearing, it means some part of their auditory system has been damaged. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. The most common temporary loss is from earwax blocking one or both ear canals. Fluid in the middle ear and trauma to the tympanic membrane, or eardrum, may cause hearing loss that lasts as long as the fluid is present or until the eardrum heals. Permanent hearing loss can occur when the trauma to the eardrum does not heal, long term infection damages the middle ear bones, or the hairs in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve become damaged. Damage to the auditory processing portion of the brain from an aneurysm, dementia, stroke, or traumatic brain injury can also cause hearing loss.
Sometimes a person with hearing loss will respond to questions or comments by saying something that does not make sense or is humorous. Most of the time, a person who mishears will respond appropriately to what they thought they heard, but not to what was actually said. Lack of hearing does not mean lack of intelligence. Making fun, chastising, or belittling a person who respond incorrectly can create emotional scars and lead to strained relationships.
Because permanent hearing loss usually occurs due to permanent damage to part of the auditory system, wearing hearing aids does not make the hearing perfect. Without hearing aids, some things may be impossible to hear. With the help of hearing aids, many more sounds and words will be audible and understandable, but hearing will not be perfect. Individuals with hearing loss may need more time to process what is said, so slowing down when speaking will help. Individuals who get help with hearing loss sooner rather than later benefit more from hearing aids.
Preventing hearing loss is always better than treating it. Avoiding loud noises, wearing hearing protection, and not putting objects in the ear, along with living a healthy lifestyle, all decrease the likelihood of having hearing loss. If you decided to ignore all the professional advice you have ever heard to not use cotton swabs in your ears, make sure you only use them on the outermost part of the ear canal to avoid pushing the wax further back in the canal or damaging the eardrum.
At Blue Ribbon Hearing & Tinnitus Center, we provide all the services and products you need for protecting and testing your hearing, as well as every form of daily wear hearing aids on the market. And if you suspect you have earwax, we can easily look inside your ear using one of our video otoscopes and show you what we find on the monitor. We love helping people hear and want to prove to you we are “Dedicated to Your Best Hearing.”