Hearing loss affects at least 40% of American adults over age 65–and more than 50% over age 75.
Hearing ability naturally decreases with age as the delicate “hair” cells that make the inner ear organs wear out with time and trauma. Despite the widespread and debilitating nature of hearing loss, it remains stigmatized in our culture and is left untreated in nearly 80% of adults. Symptoms of hearing loss include:
If you experience any one of these symptoms on a daily basis, testing by a qualified audiologist can determine the extent and nature of your hearing loss, which can be caused, or worsened, by a variety of factors.
Your ears are highly specialized instruments, designed to detect small changes in air pressure known as sound waves. Sound waves are funneled by the outer ear to the eardrum and the middle ear. The waves then activate three small bones in the middle ear–commonly known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup–which vibrate according to the types of sounds passing into the air. Your inner ear, a fluid-filled, snail-shaped structure, known as the cochlea, picks up the vibrations with thousands of tiny hair-like cells. The motion of each and every cell is picked up by an attached nerve cell, allowing all necessary information about the sound to be transferred from the inner ear to the brain at lightning-speed. The brain then makes sense of the sound, including its source, a deduction that is made using information from both ears.
The most common causes of sound muffling and/or damage to your sensitive hearing instruments are:
Additionally, inner ear damage happens naturally with age; the microscopic hair cells of the inner ear do not regenerate or heal. When you begin hearing muffled sounds and suspect hearing loss, you should take action right away.
Once hearing loss is suspected, help is most commonly sought out through a medical doctor, an audiologist, or a licensed hearing aid dealer (often found through newspaper ads). If a family practitioner or ENT suspects hearing loss (or confirms it through simple tests), he or she will then refer you to an audiologist. Audiologists, which can be seen with or without a doctor’s referral, are the only individuals educated to perform in-depth hearing tests and give you a detailed diagnosis. Licensed hearing aid dealers have some training in hearing testing and fitting hearing aids but hold no degrees in the field.
|Family Practitioner||Hearing Aid Dealer||Audiologist|
|Generalized hearing testing (may or may not take place in soundproof environment)||X||X||X|
|Full diagnostic evaluation, including patient history and speech discrimination testing||X|
|All tests completed in soundproof booth||X||X|
|Doctor of Audiology Degree||X|
|Vendor-specific sale of hearing aids (Provider often works directly for manufacturer.)||X|
|Vendor-neutral sale of hearing aids (Provider works directly for you.)||X|
There are many types of hearing aids on the market today, many of which are much more advanced than the hearing aids of the past. Stop by Carolina Audiology today to try the latest technology! You can know exactly what’s going on with your hearing: an initial evaluation with Dr. Dempsey takes only an hour and includes a thorough hearing examination and a detailed explanation of test results. Schedule an appointment today! One common problem. Many solutions. Learn about testing and diagnosing hearing loss. As an audiologist, Dr. Dempsey has the education and experience to correctly diagnose the cause and extent of your hearing loss as well as determine if medicine or surgery can improve your hearing. If medicine or surgery is an option, Dr. Dempsey will refer you to a qualified physician. If your loss is determined to be a permanent one, Dr. Dempsey will discuss the wide range of devices available to improve your hearing. Having your hearing evaluated by Dr. Dempsey before purchasing hearing aids ensures that the hearing solution you invest in will be the best fit for you.