Facts on Hearing Loss

Lawrence Lustig MD  One in every ten (28 million Americans has hearing loss, making it the most common sensory disorder.

  The prevelence of hearing loss increases with age, and it can affect up to one in three individuals over age 65. Most individuals develop hearing loss over a period of 25 to 30 years.

  Among seniors, hearing loss is the third most prevelent medical condition, following arthritis and hypertension.

  While the vast majority of Americans (95%) with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, only one in five currently use them.

Types of Hearing Loss

•  Sensorineural hearing loss (or nerve-related deafness) involves damage to the inner ear caused by:
         -  aging
         -  prenatal an birth-related problems
         -  viral and bacterial infections
         -  heredity
         -  trauma
         -  exposure to loud noise
         -  fluid backup
         -  certain medications
         -  a tumor involving the inner ear

Almost all sensorineural hearing loss can be effectively treated with hearing aids. When hearing aids no longer benefit due to the severity of the loss, cochlear implants are often an option. A rare cause of sensorineural hearing loss is a 'central' problem, which affects the auditory nerve or brain itself.

•  Conductive hearing loss is due to a problem involving the outer or middle ear and may be caused by:
         -  blockage of wax
         -  a ruptured eardrum
         -  birth defects
         -  ear infections
         -  stiffening of the middle ear bones or other heritable conditions

Conductive hearing loss can often be effectively treated medically or surgically.

•  Mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss and means that a problem occurs in both the outer or middle and the inner ear.