Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition behind arthritis and high blood pressure.
Over 10% of the U.S. population reports difficulty hearing. That is more than 31 million people that have hearing loss!
Some statistics associated with hearing loss:
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (41-59 years old) have a self-reported hearing problem.
- 1 in 14 individuals ages 29-40 have a hearing loss.
- 1.4 million children in the United States have a hearing impairment.
There have been several University-based studies that link untreated hearing loss to emotional, mental, physical, and psychological issues which can contribute to early onset dementia and alzheimers.
Types of Hearing Loss
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss - The most common form of hearing loss. The nerve of hearing begins to degrade over time due to several factors listed below:
- age - presbycusis (onset of this type of loss is typically in a person's late 50's and can progress over time).
- noise exposure
- genetic factors - congenital deformities of the auditory nerve.
- medication complications - ototoxicity
- trauma - skull-base fractures
- tumors - acoustic neuromas
- auto-immune disorders
- meniere's disease (cochlear hydrops) - inner ear fluid disorder
2. Conductive Hearing Loss - Typically associated with children developing fluid behind the ear drum. Other common causes include:
- wax (cerumen) impaction
- congenital narrowing of the external auditory canal
- infection ("swimmer's ear", otitis media)
- inflammation of the ear drum (myringitis)
- perforated ear drum
- fluid (i.e. effusion)
- erosion of the bones of the middle ear (ossicles) due to chronic infection
- fixation of the bones of the middle ear (i.e. ossicular fixation or otosclerosis).
3. Mixed Hearing Loss - Some combination of the above factors which results in both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.