The Colorado Ear Care team takes the time to understand your hearing experience, provide comprehensive testing for an accurate diagnosis, and present all available treatment options so you can lead a more fulfilling life.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing is a gift. It gives us the beauty of music, the sounds of nature, the voices of our loved ones, awareness of our surroundings, and so much more. Therefore, it’s no surprise that hearing loss can be a frustrating and disappointing experience for so many.
But it’s important that you understand the nature of your loss. Do you truly have hearing loss? What kind is it? Is it permanent? And what are your options moving forward? Colorado Ear Care’s commitment to you is to provide you total transparency about your experience and your options!
Try a one week no-risk hearing aid demo.
Types of hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss
Occurs in the Outer Ear or Middle Ear
Conductive hearing loss occurs when a problem prevents the conduction of sound waves somewhere in the middle ear, eardrum, or outer ear. Common causes include a build-up of fluid in the ears, allergies, ear infections, a perforated or torn eardrum, a blockage caused by earwax, an ear infection, or, rarely, benign tumors. It may be hard to hear soft sounds. Louder sounds may be muffled.
Depending on the cause of a conductive hearing loss, medicine, surgery, or even a simple removal of wax buildup, can help a person’s hearing improve. Other times a hearing aid is the only or desired option to improve hearing.
Common causes of conductive hearing loss
- Otitis media or fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies
- External otitis or infection in the ear canal can often be attributed to “swimmer’s ear”
- Earwax or a foreign object stuck in your ear canal (i.e. debris, insects, etc)
- Eustachian tube dysfunction – the eustachian tube connects the middle ear and the nose and fluid can build-up in the middle ear
- A hole in your eardrum (perforation)
- Benign tumors—not cancerous but can block the outer or middle ear
- Genetic deformity with how the outer or middle ear is formed (i.e. deformed ear canal or middle ear bone hardening)
Sensorineural hearing loss
Occurs in the Inner Ear
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is by far the most common form of hearing loss.SNHL occurs when the hair cells in the organ of hearing (cochlea) or the neural pathways from the inner ear to the brain have been damaged. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including: aging, genetics, noise exposure (ongoing or a single exposure), medications that are toxic to the ear (ototoxic), head injuries, and malformations of the ear’s anatomy. Soft sounds may be hard to hear. Even louder sounds may be unclear or may sound muffled. Not only is this type of hearing loss the most common, it is also a permanent form of hearing loss since we cannot regain the function of the damaged hair cells or the auditory nerve.
Having sensorineural hearing loss does not mean you are without options. Hearing aids, in many cases, can not only vastly improve a person’s hearing experience, it can also protect the hearing they have while delaying the continuation of their loss.
Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss
- Listening to loud noises or explosions
- Medications that are toxic to hearing
- Genetic family history of hearing loss
- Aging (presbycusis)
- Traumatic head injury
Mixed hearing loss
Occurs in the Outer Ear, Middle Ear, and Inner Ear
As the name suggests, mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, and it affects the outer, middle, and inner ear. Though inner ear damage is often permanent, there are potential opportunities for technological intervention, as well as potential medical or surgical treatments for the conductive loss. An assessment by a Colorado Ear Care hearing care professional will help you understand the nature of your loss, your test results, and your options so you can ultimately live your life the way you want to live!
One week no-risk hearing aid demo.
Studies have shown it takes people an average of 7 years to come in for a hearing evaluation after first noticing difficulty hearing. Together, we will pick a product to try and let you wear it for a week to see if it's right for you.
Detect if a hearing loss is present and explain your options based on your lifestyle.
All patients will be eligible for a free (no payment out of pocket) week demo of hearing aids.
After the free week demo, we'll assess if the hearing aids helped improve your hearing loss or tinnitus. If you decide you are not ready to trial hearing aids, simply return the demo devices.
Effects of hearing loss
Studies have shown it takes people an average of 7 years to come in for a hearing evaluation after first noticing difficulty hearing. Untreated hearing loss can result in a decline of your brain’s ability to process speech and sound. Over the long term speech understanding can decline and the areas of the brain that hear and process speech don’t receive stimulation.
Hearing loss has been shown to contribute to feeling socially isolated. It can become difficult to follow or engage in conversations. Some people even start to socially withdraw, choosing to avoid situations they’d usually enjoy.
In recent years, multiple studies have been published linking dementia and hearing loss. In a study that tracked 639 adults for almost 12 years, Frank Link, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues found that dementia risk doubled for people with mild hearing loss. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Hearing loss can cause frustration, worry, and stress. The anticipation of being in a situation where you know you might not hear well combined with feelings of being disconnected and left out leads down a negative road. Ultimately, a loss of confidence and self esteem may result.
It takes a lot of concentration and energy to follow conversations when you’re struggling to hear well. Many people with untreated hearing loss end the day exhausted from trying to keep up. Being fatigued from so much active listening can cause edginess which can lead to problems within relationships.
Try a one week no-risk hearing aid demo.
Communicate more effectively with someone with a hearing loss
Hearing aids won’t solve every communication problem—it involves more than just amplifying sound. Even when the person with hearing loss utilizes hearing aids and active listening strategies, they need those around them to use good communication skills and habits.
Visual cues improve successful speech recognition. Use facial expressions to help someone with a hearing loss better understand you. Walking away, communicating at a distance, or yelling from a different room are not helpful. Also pay attention to their cues—do they look tired or unengaged? Tactfully ask if they understood you or ask leading questions.
Take the time to speak clearly, slowly, distinctly. However, make sure your speech is still natural. Avoid shouting or exaggerating mouth movements. Shouting distorts the sound of speech and may make speech reading more difficult.
Get Their Attention
Get the person’s attention before beginning a conversation. When you have their attention and focus, they are less likely to miss words at the beginning of the conversation. Take turns speaking and avoid interrupting them.
Hands Away From Face
Keep your hands away from your face while talking. If you are eating,
chewing, smoking, etc. while talking, your speech will be more difficult to understand. Beards and moustaches can also interfere with the ability of the hearing impaired to speech read.
Speak Into Their Better Ear
If the hearing-impaired listener hears better in one ear than the other, try to make a point of remembering which ear is better so that you will know where to position yourself.
Avoid Background Noise
Most hearing-impaired people have greater difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise. Try to minimize noisy environments.
Write Things Down
Write down important information. Ask them to repeat back what was written if needed (i.e. time, place or phone numbers and directions, schedules, work assignments, etc.)
Rephrasing or Rewording the Conversation
If you’ve said the same thing a few times, and the person with hearing loss doesn’t understand, you may need to say it in a different way. Choose alternative words or phrases. Repeating the same words over and over can lead to a bigger disconnect. You want to avoid both parties feeling frustrated.