Hearing Loss in Adults

Hearing is the foundation for communication and social interactions. Hearing loss can occur gradually, and often may go unrecognized for many years. The effects of hearing loss are not just measured by the audiogram but also by the impact it has on each individual. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on emotional health, memory, employment opportunities, relationships and social engagement.

Quick Facts about Hearing Loss 

  • About 20 percent of Americans, 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss.
  • At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss.
  • 60 percent of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings.
  • While people in the workplace with the mildest hearing losses show little or no drop in income compared to their normal hearing peers, as the hearing loss increases, so does the reduction in compensation.
  • Almost 15% of school-age children (ages 6-19) have some degree of hearing loss.
  • Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.

 

How often should I have my Hearing Tested?

If you believe that you are suffering from hearing loss or have any of the warning signs of hearing loss, you should see an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing examination. Regardless of self-assessed hearing ability, it is advised to get a baseline hearing test at 60 years of age, or sooner, if you have any risk factors for earlier onset hearing loss such as family history or exposure to hazardous noise levels. A baseline hearing test at any age can serve as a useful reference for your hearing health in the future.

Signs you need your hearing tested…

  • Frequently asking for repeats or find yourself saying “Huh?” or “What?”
  • Often leave conversations with misunderstanding of what was said
  • Onset of social withdrawal from activities once enjoyed
  • Concerns regarding memory ability
  • Presence of tinnitus
    (ringing in the ears)
  • History of exposure to high noise levels
    (music, industrial noise exposure, hunting, etc)
  • Hearing but not understanding
  • Family members expressing concern
  • Family history of hearing loss
  • Difficulty hearing in the presence of background noise
    (i.e. restaurants, meetings, church)

 

Many prevalent health conditions have a strong link with hearing loss, and if left untreated, may have a devastating impact.

Dementia: Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is often gradual and due to a loss of sensory hair cells within the cochlea. Loss of these cells disrupts communication between the ear and brain, which can impact several essential brain areas utilized for communication, such as hearing, memory, speech and language. In fact, a research study led by Dr. Lin at Johns Hopkins showed that untreated hearing loss increases the risk of dementia by 200-500%. (link to our handout saved to this file – “Dementia & Hearing Loss”)

Depression: Untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences for older persons. A survey of 2,300 hearing impaired adults age 50 and older found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.

Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are 2x more likely to develop hearing loss than those without diabetes. Diabetes inhibits the body’s ability to produce and manage insulin appropriately, causing a glucose build up in the bloodstream. Researchers suspect that the buildup of glucose in the ear can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss.

Heart Disease: Hearing loss occurs 54% more often in people with heart disease. The hair cells in the inner ear, which communicate to the brain via the auditory nerve, are susceptible to damage due to poor blood flow resulting from narrowed blood vessels. This may cause insufficient oxygenation through the blood, causing irreversible damage.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Several studies, including a 2018 study in Clinical Rheumatology, found higher rates of sensorineural hearing loss – a type of hearing loss usually caused by poor function of the hair cells in the cochlea – in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Some evidence also links hearing

The risks of untreated hearing loss are established and many. Do not delay evaluation and management. To schedule an appointment with us or to learn more, contact us at 803-620-8250 or send an email to by filling out form below.

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Awards and Associations

American Academy of Audiology
American Board of Audiology
Cochlear
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Dr. Kim Block

2018 Audiologist of the Year

Dr. Kim Block was awarded Outstanding Audiologist of the Year by the South Carolina Academy of Audiology in 2018. This award is given to an audiologist who...