Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an incredibly common, but all too often untreated condition. Associated Hearing has dedicated itself to helping our community learn more about hearing loss, how they can protect their hearing, and how to get the treatment they deserve through technology, aural rehabilitation, and more.
Hearing test
a man with hearing aids from Associated Hearing chatting with a group of friends

What is hearing loss?

Simply put, hearing loss can be defined as when your ability to hear is diminished, typically due to damage caused in the middle or inner ear, infections, the natural aging process, ototoxic medications, or other health conditions that can cause hearing loss. Despite its prevalence (experts estimate that nearly 50 million Americans experience some level of hearing loss), nearly 40 million people in the US experience hearing loss allow this affliction to go untreated. Much of our perception of hearing occurs in the brain, as well as the inner ear, interpreting the frequencies we hear and turning them into information. Hearing loss can diminish our ability to interpret and understand this information, causing confusion and sometimes even a deterioration of our brain’s cognition.
The longer we let our hearing loss go untreated, the greater the chance there is for our cognitive processes to decline. This is one reason why we feel it so vital for any adult age fifty or older to get their hearing tested annually, even if they believe their hearing is healthy or if they’re already wearing hearing aids. Annual tests allow us to create baselines for your hearing, where we can not only identify and treat your hearing loss, but we can also track its progress and make more informed recommendations by identifying and speaking to the trends we see in your personal hearing data. At Associated Hearing, we offer comprehensive diagnostic hearing tests designed to help us determine the type of hearing loss you might have, as well as its severity. Many people will wait five to seven years after they suspect they have hearing loss before seeking testing. We would encourage you to come see as soon as you or a loved one suspects you might be having trouble with your hearing. Remember, the longer you wait, the greater your chance to diminish your cognitive focus and speech comprehension.

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a man with hearing aids from Associated Hearing chatting with a group of friends

What are the types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be divided into three specific categories that affect the most people:  
  • Sensorineural loss
  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss

What is sensorineural hearing loss?

The most common form of treatable hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually the result of damage to the hair (or nerve) cells in the inner ear, specifically the cochlea. When the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, usually by repeated exposure to loud noise, your ability to hear becomes diminished. These hair cells do not regenerate and cannot be replaced. Noise-induced hearing loss most-often will affect your ability to hear high frequencies first. This is why hearing loss often affects our ability to hear the voices of children, many women’s voices, and speech sounds like “ch,” “st,” and many others that register in the higher frequency range. Sensorineural hearing loss, depending on its severity, can usually be treated thr

What is conductive hearing loss?

Conductive hearing loss is quite different from sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss generally occurs as the result of a blockage or an infection in the middle or outer ear. A buildup of fluids (from ear infections), swimmer’s ear, earwax, and other factors will cause a blockage that prevents sounds from reaching the eardrum. Conductive hearing loss usually is treatable and even curable, through the use of surgery and some non-surgical interventions.

What is mixed hearing loss?

As its name suggests, mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This means that, generally, some aspects of the hearing loss are treatable through surgical or non-surgical methods, whereas other factors may be treated (but not cured) through the use of properly fit hearing aids. No matter what type of hearing loss you have, the most important thing you should do if you suspect that you or a loved one has hearing loss is to seek intervention from a trusted professional. At Associated Hearing, our goal is always to take the time to understand your experience, thoroughly test and diagnose your hearing condition, and provide you with treatment recommendations that best reflect your hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.
a man with hearing aids from Associated Hearing chatting with a group of friends

What are the signs of hearing loss?

Hearing loss, with certain exceptions, is usually a gradual process. Because of its gradual onset, we don’t often recognize that it’s occurring. Our brains are working harder and harder to adapt to our diminished hearing ability, which in turn can create feelings of fatigue. If you begin to notice potential signs of hearing loss, or if a loved one points out to you that they believe you might be missing sounds, take that feedback seriously and schedule a hearing exam for yourself. Remember, the longer you wait the more you increase your chances of further developing hearing loss or even cognitive decline.

Common signs of hearing loss include:

  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • People, especially children or women with higher voices, seem to always mumble
  • It’s hard to understand or follow conversations in noisy environments like restaurants
  • Your responses to conversations are delayed or not in line with the subject matter
  • Conversations make you feel tired or fatigued
  • Phone conversations are more difficult to follow than they used to be
  • You are often told you have the television turned up too loud

How do I protect my hearing?

Hearing loss prevention and preservation of your healthy hearing are important factors to consider when you’re working to live an enriching life. Your ability to communicate is a central way of engaging with your world. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage your hearing, and any sounds above 85 dBs can permanently harm your hearing if you’re not careful. This is why Associated Hearing offers custom-fit hearing protection. These earplugs are worlds beyond the standard foam plugs you’re probably familiar with. They are designed to perfectly complement your ears’ unique anatomy, protecting your hearing from harmful sounds while allowing you to still engage with the world around you. They’re perfect for musicians, shooters, hunters, and anyone who finds themselves in loud listening situations (which is just about all of us.) Even if custom-molded earplugs aren’t for you, we still encourage you to wear standard foam or silicone plugs. Some protection is always better than none.

Schedule Your Hearing Test Now!

Book your appointment with the Associated Hearing team and hear the difference.