Adult Hearing Loss
It’s common to experience gradual hearing loss that occurs as we get older. In fact, by the ages of 55 to 75, one in three people in the United States will have some degree of hearing loss – and that number increases to one in two for adults older than 75.
There are three types of hearing loss:
- Conductive: affects the outer or middle ear
- Sensorineural: affects the inner ear
- Mixed: affects both the inner and outer or middle ear
It’s not just the elderly that develop hearing loss. Chronic exposure to loud noises and other factors, including excessive earwax, can adversely affect how well your ears conduct sound at any age.
Symptoms of hearing loss may include:
- The muffling of speech and other sounds
- Having difficulty understanding words, particularly when in a crowd or where there is background noise
- Having difficulty hearing consonants
- Having to frequently ask others to speak more loudly, clearly, or slowly
Audiologists in Houston, TX
While most types of hearing loss cannot be reversed, audiologists at Texas Hearing Institute can take steps to improve your hearing. These include:
Texas Hearing Institute offers adult hearing screenings in accordance with Texas Department of Health guidelines. The test, which takes about 20-30 minutes, involves playing a series of sounds through headphones and asking the participant to respond when they hear the sound – no matter how quiet or faint – by pressing a button. This is done one ear at a time to detect any different results, which may indicate a hearing problem.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides auditory information to an adult with significant sensorineural hearing loss. The cochlear implant bypasses the damaged hair cells in the cochlea (the organ of hearing) to directly stimulate the auditory nerve. The cochlear implant consists of a surgically implanted internal processor and an external processor worn on the head. Research has determined that the sooner a child receives a cochlear implant, the more likely they will be able to develop spoken language and understand speech. The FDA had approved children down to 9 months of age.
Hearing aids are designed to help individuals hear speech and environmental sounds more clearly.
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that sits behind the ear. There are small microphones on the hearing aid, which picks up sound around it. Then the computer processor within the hearing aid processes the sound and sends it through the tubing/earmold to the child’s ear.
Real Ear Measurement (REM) is used by our audiologists to measure the sound pressure level in a patient’s ear canal when a hearing aid is worn. This helps to verify the amplification of a hearing aid to ensure optimal performance.
Other hearing aid-related services include adjustments, as well as repair and maintenance.
A bone conduction hearing device is designed for those who have conductive hearing loss. The device has small microphones, which detect sound and send it to the computer processor in the hearing device. The sound is then converted to vibrations, which are sent directly to the inner ear. This bypasses the parts of the ear where the conductive hearing loss is located.
A bone conduction device can be worn on a headband to hold it in place. However, there are surgical options that allow individuals to utilize the bone conduction device without the headband.
Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears that can be constant or may come and go. In either case, tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss. It can be caused by exposure to loud sounds, a head injury, excessive earwax, the side effects of medications, or whiplash. Treatment options for tinnitus include earwax removal, a hearing aid, changing your medication, or surgery for an underlying blood vessel condition.
An earmold is a soft customized earpiece that is connected to the hearing aid. The earmold connects to the hearing aid and sends sound from it to the ear drum.
To make the earmold, your audiologist places a putty-like material in the patient’s ears. It takes a few minutes for the putty to dry before it can be removed. After it is removed, the impression will be sentto create custom earmolds for the patient.
Earwax, clinically known as cerumen, is a brown, orange, red, yellowish, or gray waxy substance secreted in the human ear canal for the purposes of protecting the skin of the ear canal, assisting in cleaning and lubrication, and providing protection from bacteria, fungi, and water.
When the ear glands produce more wax than necessary, earwax blockage can occur, especially among those who use hearing aids or wear earplugs. Approximately 10 percent of children and 30 percent of adults have excessive earwax, causing one or more of the following symptoms:
- Itch, odor, or drainage
- Partial hearing loss
- Sensation of a plugged ear or fullness in the ear
- Humming, ringing, or buzzing in the ears, or tinnitus
- Pain in the ear
- Vertigo, dizziness, or balance problems
To alleviate these symptoms, audiologists at Texas Hearing Institute provide ear wax management measures for children and adults.