Hearing Health

Hearing health is integral to keeping us connected with the world around us, and to those we love. At Zounds of Westford, we truly understand the impact hearing loss has on quality of life and overall well-being.

More than 60% of older adults have a hearing loss. Unfortunately, only one in five who need a hearing aid actually wear one and they wait an average of 5-7 years before seeing a specialist for help. Untreated hearing impairment can affect your ability to understand speech and can negatively impact your social, emotional and physical well-being. Recent studies have strongly linked it to other health problems, such as cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia, and poorer physical function.

Once seen as a sign of aging, hearing loss is becoming more common at a younger age. Baby Boomers, those between the ages of 45 and 65, are developing hearing impairment at a faster rate and younger age than previous generations. Causes include increased noise pollution and the use of personal listening devices that utilize headphones and ear pieces.

Types of Hearing Impairmenthearing loss

Hearing loss is classified as sensorineural, conductive or a combination of both.

Sensorineural

The sensorineural type of hearing loss is the most common. Roughly 90% to 95% of all hearing aid wearers are afflicted with sensorineural hearing impairment.

Sensorineural hearing loss is associated with abnormalities to the cochlea or its nerve. People with this type of hearing loss often have their televisions too loud or frequently ask others to repeat themselves.

This type of hearing impairment may also affect the ability to understand speech, especially within noisy environments. The higher frequency ranges of one’s speech are the sounds made by the letters “s”, “ch” and “t” and are often affected by sensorineural hearing loss.

Conductive

The conductive type of hearing loss occurs when sounds are not transmitted or “conducted” properly through the ear canal, eardrum and/or the middle ear.

Causes of conductive hearing impairment may include a build up of earwax (cerumen) blocking the ear canal, other obstructions in the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, infections (external otitis or otitis media), perforations (holes) in the eardrum and tumors or other diseases in the middle ear. Additionally, abnormalities in the ossicular chain (hammer, anvil, stirrup) can also cause conductive hearing loss.

Those inflicted with conductive hearing impairment may benefit from surgery or other medical procedures.

If interested in learning more about hearing health and hearing loss, The Better Hearing Institute is a great source of information.