Have you noticed a decline in your hearing? If so, welcome to a not-so-exclusive club: 48 million Americans experience hearing loss, making it one of the most common physical conditions in the U.S., behind arthritis and heart disease. Nevadans are no exception! There are a number of hearing loss causes in Reno and across the Silver State, and despite stereotypes, they don’t all have to do with age.
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
- Presbycusis. Also known as age-related hearing loss, presbycusis affects one-third of adults by the age of 65. That number goes up to half by the age of 75. This condition develops gradually and is the culmination of a lifetime of noise exposure. It may range from mild to severe, and usually affects both ears. In addition to noise, other factors such as heredity, disease, and ototoxic medications can contribute. High-frequency sounds are the first to be affected, so you might have trouble understanding women and children initially. Because presbycusis affects hearing so slowly, many people are unaware of a problem for quite some time.
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Excessive noise exposure is a very common cause of hearing loss. Unlike presbycusis, NIHL is preventable. It is the result of prolonged exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels; the louder the sound and the longer you are in contact with its source, the quicker NIHL can occur. About 15 percent of adults aged 20 to 69 experience NIHL, and 12.5 percent of kids aged 6 to 19 suffer from it. Activities that put you at risk include concerts, sporting events, hunting, motorcycles, boats, jet skis, and snowmobiles. Wearing ear protection whenever you are exposed to noisy environments is the key to avoiding NIHL.
- Other Factors. There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, affecting the inner ear; conductive, affecting the outer or middle ears; and mixed, which is a combination of both. Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve deafness, is the most common type and can occur as a result of heredity, trauma or injury, disease, malformations of the inner ear, and tumors. Conductive hearing loss is often related to fluid in the ears resulting from colds or allergies, ear infections, earwax buildup, foreign objects in the ears, and eardrum perforations. Fortunately, many of these problems can be corrected with medications or surgery.
Regardless of the cause, audiologists in Reno have treatment solutions for patients affected with hearing loss. If you or a loved one are experiencing trouble hearing, schedule an appointment today.