We have faced a lot of questions over many years of serving the Greater San Antonio area. We learn a lot about hearing loss from our patients, and we never stop growing.
For those just starting to experience a hearing loss, this is a great place to educate yourself on what is happening with your ears. These questions get asked almost daily because hearing loss is so prevalent in the US.
If you have a question that you don’t see listed here, then we encourage you to contact us immediately. We will be happy to answer all your questions. If you’re thinking it, then so is someone else, and you could be helping them too.
1) How Does Hearing Loss Occur?
There are many causes of hearing loss. Some people are born with it due to a genetic condition or malformation of the structures that make up the auditory system.
Other people may develop a hearing loss later in life as part of a hereditary condition.
Here in San Antonio, one of the most common populations to demonstrate hearing loss are members of the military. This demographic is exposed to noise from aircraft engines, generators, weapons firing, and explosions.
We also see hearing loss due to noise exposures such as fireworks or a surprise gunshot. Experiencing any loud sound, such as musical instruments, for extended periods is also responsible for hearing loss.
Other causes of hearing loss may be related to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or even COVID-19. The treatments for different medical conditions, including certain antibiotics or loop diuretics, may also lead to hearing loss.
Still, other people experience a sudden hearing loss that may be related to a virus or an autoimmune disease.
2) How Does Hearing Loss Affect Your Daily Life?
Hearing loss affects everyone differently. Some people with a mild hearing loss may feel they have ultimately been cut off from communication. In contrast, others with a severe hearing loss don’t notice a problem because it happened so slowly.
Most commonly, when we start to have difficulty hearing our loved ones, we notice a problem. A spouse or grandchild’s voice may just become challenging to understand.
Other people may notice that they can hear well in most quiet places, but understanding speech becomes very difficult when they are in the presence of background noise.
For some, it’s a loved one who points out how loud the television is that calls their attention to their lack of hearing.
3) Can Hearing Loss Affect Relationships?
Without question, the most challenging aspect of hearing loss is the effect it has on our relationships.
When people have a hard time communicating, they often start to isolate themselves and avoid social situations where they know they will experience difficulty hearing. Similarly, loved ones may find communicating with a person with a hearing loss too difficult and start to avoid speaking with them.
This not only leads to a breakdown in communication, but it can also lead to depression. The combination of isolation and depression is also a sign of dementia.
Frequently, a person with a hearing loss may be mistaken for one with dementia, which changes the dynamic of all relationships in that person’s life.
4) Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Speech?
To learn how to speak, we must be able to hear sounds accurately. For this reason, those born with a hearing loss or who develop it during the critical period for speech and language often show delayed speech and language and abnormal patterns.
It used to be very easy to identify a person with a hearing loss by the tone of their speech. However, with newborn hearing screenings, we’re able to identify hearing loss at birth and begin amplification and intervention for speech and language very early.
These children, when identified at birth, may develop speech and language completely. For those who lose their hearing later in life, we often see other changes in speech.
Many who cannot hear clearly cannot regulate the volume of their voice and will speak much louder or softer than they used to.
Depending on how soon they adopt the use of amplification, these people may start to pronounce some words differently, leaving out sounds that they are unable to hear clearly.
5) Does Hearing Loss Always Occur With Old Age?
While age-related hearing loss is widespread, no one should assume that they will lose their hearing as they age.
However, it’s important to note that monitoring a person’s hearing is a good idea when other health conditions are identified. In fact, it is recommended that everyone has their hearing tested once a year.
This gives us a great idea as to how well you are hearing. With this information, we may be able to identify issues early on and treat them before they become a severe problem.
6) What Are The Best Treatments For Hearing Loss?
The treatment of hearing loss depends mainly on the cause of it. Some types of hearing loss, known as conductive hearing loss, are caused by a problem in the outer or middle ear space. This prevents sound from being conducted through the auditory system effectively.
These hearing losses can be treated by an ear physician, either using medication or surgical intervention. On the other hand, sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent hearing loss due to damage within the sensory organ of the auditory system, the cochlea, or the auditory nerve.
The most common treatment for this type of hearing loss is the use of traditional hearing aids. However, a cochlear implant may be better suited for those with more severe degrees of hearing loss or a condition such as auditory neuropathy.
7) Does Hearing Loss Lead To Deafness?
Hearing loss does not necessarily lead to deafness.
Many people develop a hearing loss and wear hearing aids very successfully for the rest of their lives. However, when the use of hearing aids is delayed for excessive periods of time, the auditory nerve and auditory cortex will no longer conduct sounds and process sounds as effectively as they once did.
This leads to people not liking the sound of hearing aids. Not because of the hearing aids but because of the distortion in the auditory system and problems understanding speech.
While it’s true that there is nothing we can do to absolutely prevent a hearing loss from progressing, we know that the earlier a person adopts the use of hearing aids to treat their hearing loss, the better the long-term treatment outcomes will be.
For some patients, hearing loss DOES lead to total deafness. Fortunately, the use of cochlear implants has become very commonplace. Even those with the most severe forms of hearing loss can look forward to some type of treatment.
Here’s What To Do If You Have Other Questions
We are always ready to help everyone in the greater San Antonio area with their hearing questions. You can contact us anytime, and one of our staff members will be happy to help.
We have the knowledge and experience to treat any hearing issue we face and firmly believe that everyone should have healthy hearing that they’re happy with.
Your hearing is a vital form of communication and should be treated as such. Take care of your ears, and they will take care of you.