Hope for Those Suffering from Hearing Loss
While hearing loss is commonly associated with aging and occurs in 60 percent of individuals over the age of 60, it can affect people of all ages. The cause can be a variety of influences including genetics, noise exposure, inner ear damage, earwax buildup, ear infections and certain types of medications. Loss of hearing can be sudden or gradual and depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
“The first step is to determine the cause of the patient’s hearing loss or to narrow down the list of possible causes,” said Otolaryngologist Philip Harris, M.D., of the ear, nose and throat practice with MidMichigan Physicians Group. “The second step is to determine if medical treatment should begin and the nature of that treatment. Treatment strategies really vary by patient. It has been shown that hearing impaired individuals who work with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist and an audiologist have better outcomes with corrective hearing impairment treatments.”
In addition to hearing loss, some people suffer from a condition referred to as tinnitus or ringing in the ears. This condition is the perception of sound without an external stimulus. Tinnitus may be heard continuously or intermittently in one or both ears or within the head. It may be acute or chronic and occur either with or without measurable hearing loss and other sound tolerance complaints. Tinnitus often occurs with hearing loss, but even someone who hears normally who is alone in a quiet space may perceive this sound. Noisy surroundings can produce a partial or complete suppression of tinnitus in many individuals. Many hearing-impaired individuals find improved perception of external sounds and a benefit to their tinnitus with hearing aid use. Hearing aids can be used to help improve and correct hearing loss.
“There are many types of hearing aids currently available to patients,” said Dr. Harris. “These include those that fit behind the ear that are open fit or include an ear mold, those that fit in the ear or in the ear canal and those that are anchored to the bone. Many studies have reported fewer social difficulties with hearing aids, especially in face-to-face communication, viewing television and quality of life related to hearing.”
Those who would like additional information about headache treatment options or other conditions affecting the sinus cavity, ear, nose or throat may call MidMichigan Physicians Group ENT at (989) 839-6201. Office locations include Midland, Clare, Gladwin and Mt. Pleasant.