What have you heard about Hearing Loss?

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Hearing loss isn’t an inevitable part of aging – and it doesn’t necessarily mean you need hearing aids.

If your Auditory system isn’t working in lower frequencies but substantial loss correctly, you may have hearing loss, which can range from partial to total. Many people think diminished hearing ability is simply part of getting older. However, although age- related hearing loss is common, it doesn’t affect everyone. Additionally, if you experience hearing loss, you don’t have to live with it. Many treatments are available for this condition, and hearing aids are just one.

“Often, patients believe they need hearing aids, but that’s not always the case,” says Kelsey Goodin, APRN, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) nurse practitioner at Norton King’s Daughters’ Health. “There are many causes of hearing loss, some of which we can treat in the office. These include earwax in the ear canal obstructing the eardrum, holes in the eardrum and fluid behind the ears. We can fix those problems without hearing aids.”


Along with aging, prolonged exposure to loud noise is a leading cause of hearing loss. Mowing your lawn, shooting guns or working in a noisy environment without ear protection can damage your hearing. So can listening to loud music.

“The most common type of hearing loss is high-frequency hearing loss,” says Jonathan Hanson, MD, FACS, otolaryngologist at Norton KDH. “This type can be sneaky because you may have perfect hearing in higher frequencies, which can make you miss certain consonants, like ‘th’ and ‘s’ sounds. Differentiating words is more difficult when you have high-frequency hearing loss. The part of the inner ear that governs high-frequency sounds suffers the most due to noise exposure and aging.”

Other factors can also lead to hearing loss. These include:

• excessive earwax
• fluid behind the ears
• ruptured eardrum

In addition, certain antibiotics and other medications can harm your hearing ability. Tinnitus, when you hear ringing in your ears or other sounds that others can’t hear, can be a sign of or occur alongside hearing loss.


Not being able to hear what others are saying can be embarrassing, but the effects on your quality of life may run deeper.

“Patients with hearing loss may withdraw from being social,” Dr. Hanson says. “People need meaningful interaction with others, and when they withdraw from family and friends, they have a worse quality of life and may experience loneliness and depression.”

Older adults with hearing loss see a faster decline in their cognitive abilities than those whose hearing is intact, according to the National Institute on Aging. If you notice signs of hearing loss, such as watching TV with the volume turned all the way up, having trouble following conversations or frequently having to ask others to repeat themselves, see your primary care provider (PCP) or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) provider.

“You don’t need a referral from your PCP to see us,” Kelsey says. “As soon as you notice an issue with your hearing, come in and we’ll evaluate you. Sometimes, benign tumors and growths can occur in the ear that may affect hearing. They’re removable, but it’s important not to ignore hearing loss because if it’s due to a tumor, the tumor may continue to grow.”


For patients with hearing loss, Dr. Hanson and Kelsey start by evaluating them for an earwax plug, hole in the eardrum or fluid buildup, all of which could affect hearing. If those conditions aren’t present, the providers refer the patients for a medical-grade hearing test. They return to see Dr. Hanson and Kelsey to discuss their results and next steps, which may include a referral for hearing aids – Norton KDH does not sell the devices – or cochlear implants.

With so many solutions available, there’s no reason to stay silent about hearing loss, especially when the problem might be easier to fix than you think.

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