Dalton ENT Hearing Center - Comprehensive, Compassionate, Committed Hearing Care
Dalton, GA
(706) 279-EARS
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noise induced hearing loss Sensorineural Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing loss Presbycusis - Age Related Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing loss Noise Induced Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing loss Conductive Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing lossCongenital Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing loss Solutions for Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing loss Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss

noise induced hearing loss Tinnitus - Ringing or Buzzing in the Ears

Hearing Health & Hearing Loss

Hearing is one of our most vital sensory organs. Whether we consciously realize it or not, it allows us to connect with our friends and family, it alerts us to dangers, and it delights us with the sounds of music, raindrops, and singing birds.

Our sense of hearing does all of this naturally through a sophisticated process we never even really think about until we begin to notice that words in conversation aren't as clear, or the sound of the raindrops is so faint we barely notice it.

"Huh?" becomes a regularly repeated word, and when you're tired of repeating it, you may simply just nod and smile, not really knowing at all what was said.

When you experience a loss in hearing clarity, it can be for various reasons, though the most common is "Sensorineural" Hearing Loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Your outer ear, middle ear, inner ear and brain all play a part in the complex process that results in the sounds that you hear. Deep within your middle ear is a coil-shaped canal called the cochlea. Tiny hairs within the cochlea play a delicate and critical role in your hearing clarity. Put simply, their response to sound waves creates nerve signals, which are transmitted by nerve fibers to your brain. Your brain then interprets those nerve signals as sound. Over time these tiny hairs and nerve fibers can become damaged or die. The hair cells do not regenerate, so as the number of functioning hairs decreases, hearing clarity decreases. The resulting hearing loss is irreversible but can be helped with properly prescribed hearing aids and assitive listening devices. The two most common types of sensorineural hearing loss are Presbycusis - Age-Related Hearing Loss and Noise Induced Hearing Loss.

Presbycusis - Age-Related Hearing Loss

Presbycusis (prĕz'bĭ-kyū'sĭs), also known as age-related hearing loss, is the cumulative effect of aging on hearing. It is a gradual loss that happens over time. In fact, the loss is so gradual that people with presbycusis may not realize that their hearing is diminishing. It becomes difficult to hear high-frequency sounds like speech. Understanding conversations in noisy settings becomes particularly difficult, and even in quiet settings people's voices sound mumbled or slurred.

Age-related hearing loss is very common: it affects a third of people between 65 and 75 years and up a half of people 75 and over. Where environmental exposures to noise (such as power tools, loud music — see Noise Induced Hearing Loss below) do contribute to presbycusis, up to half of presbycusis is genetically determined. You may be surprised to learn that presbycusis actually begins its affect on our hearing in our early 20's; it is not until our 40's and 50's that we start to notice time taking its toll on our hearing.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Essentially, noise induced hearing loss occurs when your hearing is damaged over time by exposure to loud noise without wearing hearing protection. Loud music, power tools, construction noise, lawnmowers, firearms, and recreation noise like motorcycles and speedboats all take their toll on your hearing clarity—words aren't clear or music doesn't sound as nice as it used to because you're missing the full frequency or range of sound.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is a result of sound not being efficiently conducted through the outer ear (ear canal and eardrum) and/or middle ears (the tiny bones of the middle ear). With conductive hearing loss, the sounds you hear seem reduced in volume or "muffled" as though you are wearing earplugs.

The most common causes of conductive hearing loss include impacted earwax (cerumen); the presence of a foreign body in the ear; or fluid in the ear associated with colds, allergies, ear infections (otitis media — this is more common with infants and children than with adults). A poorly functioning eustachian tube or malformation of certain parts of the ear are also examples of physical conditions that can cause conductive hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss can often be corrected through medicine or with surgery. Many patients are astonished to discover that their hearing loss is attributed to something as simple as impacted earwax, which can be removed by your doctor or audiologist at the time of your appointment.

Congenital Hearing Loss in Children

Congenital hearing loss is a hearing loss that is present in infants at birth. Over half of all instances of congenital hearing loss are though to be the result of genetic factors, where a parent or both parents have either dominant or recessive traits for hearing loss and pass it on to the child. Other causes of congenital hearing loss include infections, illnesses, or complications either prenatally, at the time of birth or shortly after birth. These conditions typically cause sensorineural hearing loss ranging in degree from mild to profound.

Hearing loss typically happens over a long period of time, so the decline in your hearing clarity is gradual and may even seem unnoticeable. It is a slow process, and your ears and brain work together to adjust to the loss in clarity. If you wear glasses or contact lenses to correct your vision, you may remember the first time you put on your new glasses and were able to distinctly see the outlines of leaves on a tree or the crisp, clean letters in the newspaper versus shades of green you knew to be leaves and shades of gray and black that you squinted at to bring into focus. You probably thought, "Wow! I didn't realize just how much I couldn't see!" Most of our patients who have a loss in hearing clarity and decide to try hearing aids experience the same revelation with their hearing.

You can experience hearing loss in one ear or both ears. When both ears are affected, the degree and type of loss can be different in each ear. Hearing loss can be consistent or it can fluctuate; when hearing clarity fluctuates, it is typically the result of an ear infection or fluid in the inner ear. Hearing loss can also be progressive, happening gradually over time, or sudden, as though someone flipped a switch and adjusted the sound volume. It's IMPORTANT that you visit your family doctor if you are experiencing ear pain, bleeding from the ears, sudden hearing loss, or fluctuations in hearing, because these symptoms may be the result of a problem that needs medical treatment.

If you feel that you aren't hearing things as clearly as you used to, you're not alone. Millions of people of all ages have some form of hearing loss that ranges from mild to severe. In fact, many doctors recommend that a hearing test be part of a routine physical exam. If you haven't had your hearing evaluated, give us a call to schedule a comprehensive hearing test. It's easy, painless and even covered by most health insurance. Your hearing will be glad you did.

Solutions for Hearing Loss

When you visit The Dalton ENT Hearing Center, we will sit with you and ask you questions to determine whether your hearing concerns are something for which you must see your family doctor (ear pain, bleeding from the ears, fluctuating hearing loss, sudden hearing loss). Though this is usually determined at the time you call to schedule your appointment, our concern is your complete hearing health, so we will always make sure.

We will then ask more questions and begin to perform a hearing evaluation. We typically discover one of three things:

1. You have earwax blocking your ear canal — once it's removed, your hearing is greatly improved!

2. Your ears look fine, and your hearing test results show that you are hearing clearly.

3. Your ears look fine, but your hearing test reveals that you do have a hearing loss.

If your hearing test shows that you have a hearing loss, we will work with you to recommend the best solutions to help you hear more clearly. This can range from assistive listening devices like amplified telephones to hearing instruments or both.

Can hearing loss be cured? Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse noise induced hearing loss, but there are solutions to help you hear more clearly. Contact us today for your no-obligation appointment.

Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss

To protect your ears, wear earplugs or earmuffs when you are in environments with noise: construction sites, yard work, concerts, woodworking, hunting with firearms. For extra comfort and protection, we can provide you with Custom Hearing Protection that will conform specifically to your ear canals. Click here to learn about Custom Hearing Protection.

Give your ears a rest! Even when you're watching television at a reasonable volume, the repetitive sound on your ears can fatigue them. So turn off the TV or radio for a while and enjoy a little quiet for the sake of your hearing health.

Tinnitus - Ringing or Buzzing in the Ears

Often referred to as "ringing in the ears," tinnitus is a medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears when no external sound can be detected by others. Some people who suffer from tinnitus hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking rather than ringing. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant with single or multiple tones, and its perceived volume can range from subtle to intense.

In many cases the cause of tinnitus cannot be determined. There are many potential catalysts that are known to trigger or worsen tinnitus: accumulation of earwax, exposure to loud sounds, head or neck injuries, problems with blood circulation, jaw misalignment, ear or sinus infections certain types of tumors, cardiovascular disease, and even certain medications can trigger tinnitus. The majority of people who suffer from tinnitus also have hearing loss.

There are solutions to help you manage tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus maskers create a type of "white noise" sound that distracts your brain from the ringing or buzzing sounds, which can reduce their intensity. Some modern hearing instruments are designed with features that help to provide relief from tinnitus. Tinnitus retraining therapy is also available. However the best place to start if you have not yet been diagnosed with tinnitus is to see your family doctor.

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