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Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the third most prevalent health problem affecting Americans over the age of forty and is estimated to affect over 31.5 million people in our country. Those with untreated hearing loss may experience increasing isolation from friends and family as communication becomes more difficult. This isolation may lead to increasing degrees of depression and social anxiety.

Do you need a hearing test?

  • Can you hear the sound of people talking but have to strain to understand the words?
  • Do you frequently ask people to repeat what they have said?
  • Do you turn up the volume of the TV or radio louder than your friends or family members do?
  • Do you have ringing sounds in your ears?
  • Do you find people easier to understand if they look directly at you when they are speaking?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, see a Doctor of Audiology at the University of the Pacific Hearing & Balance Center for a complete hearing test and evaluation.
It is recommended that you bring a friend or family member to your hearing evaluation appointment, it always helps to have a second set of ears to soak up the information you will be given!

Types of Hearing Loss

During the hearing evaluation process we will discover what type of hearing loss you have by assessing different parts of the auditory system. The auditory system consists of three major parts:

  • The Outer Ear consists of the external ear and ear canal
  • The Middle Ear consists of the eardrum, three middle ear bones called ossicles and the Eustachian Tube
  • The Inner Ear consists of the fluid-filled cochlea, balance canals and auditory nerve

Ear Diagram

After assessing these parts of the auditory system we will classify your hearing loss into one of three types:

  • Conductive hearing loss implies that there is a problem with sound getting to the inner ear. The sound is impeded by an obstruction in the outer ear or by the eardrum or middle ear bones not conducting sound (vibration) well. The most common causes of this type of hearing loss are: earwax, fluid behind the eardrum, perforations of the eardrum, a thickening of the middle ear bones or a disarticulation of the middle ear bones.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss implies that sound is getting to the inner ear, however, the receptors (hair cells) in the inner ear are damaged and are therefore not transmitting the information to the auditory nerve. The most common causes of this type of hearing loss are: aging, noise exposure, genetic inheritance and high doses of medical drugs (chemotherapy or antibiotics).
  • Mixed hearing loss implies that there is a problem with the sound getting to the inner ear as well as damage to the sound receptors in the inner ear. The causes are a mixture of causes listed for conductive and sensorineural types of hearing loss.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Only once the type of hearing loss has been identified can appropriate recommendations for treatment be made. If a conductive or mixed hearing loss has been identified, you will be referred to the appropriate medical physician (Ear, Nose, Throat physician/Otolaryngologist or Otologist) for further evaluation. If a sensorineural hearing loss has been identified a hearing device consultation will be performed, if desired.

Additional Resources

Better Hearing Institute www.betterhearing.org

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association www.asha.org

American Tinnitus Association www.ata.org