Sixty-three percent of those 70 and older were found to be suffering from impairment that affects their ability to hear human speech in todays world.
Hearing loss was more common in men than in women. And it was significantly less common in black adults: just 43 percent, compared with 64 percent of whites.
Yet only a minority of older people with these impairments uses hearing aids
Minor decreases in hearing are common after age 20.
Hearing problems usually come on gradually, and rarely end in complete deafness.
There are many causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be divided into two main categories:
• Conductive hearing loss (CHL) occurs because of a mechanical problem in the outer or middle ear. The three tiny bones of the ear (ossicles) may not conduct sound properly, or the eardrum may not vibrate in response to sound. Fluid in the middle ear can cause this type of hearing loss.
• Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) results when there is a problem with the inner ear. It most often occurs when the tiny hair cells (nerve endings) that transmit sound through the ear are injured, diseased, do not function properly, or have prematurely died. This type of hearing loss is sometimes called "nerve damage," although this is not accurate.
CHL is often reversible. SNHL is not. People who have both forms of hearing loss are said to have mixed hearing loss.
HEARING LOSS IN CHILDREN
Screening for hearing loss is now recommended for all newborns. In children, hearing problems may cause speech to develop slowly.
Ear infections are the most common cause of temporary hearing loss in children. Fluid may stay in the ear following an ear infection. The fluid can go unnoticed, or it can cause significant hearing problems in children. Any fluid that remains longer than 8 - 12 weeks is cause for concern.
Preventing hearing loss is more effective than treating it after the damage is done.
Wax buildup can frequently be flushed out of the ear (gently) with ear syringes (available in drug stores) and warm water. Wax softeners (like Cerumenex) may be needed if the wax is hard and impacted.
Care should be taken when removing foreign bodies. Unless it is easy to get to, have your health care provider remove the object. Don't use sharp instruments to remove foreign bodies.
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