Do you have trouble following a conversation in a noisy room? Maybe you can’t hear the person on the other end of the phone, or your family complains that you keep the TV volume too loud. If that’s the case, you may be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can happen abruptly or over time. It can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. If you have hearing loss, you may notice some of these symptoms:

  • The feeling your ears are stopped up
  • Trouble following a conversation, especially if there’s background noise
  • Not being able to hear your TV at the usual volume
  • A hissing or ringing sound (tinnitus)
  • Ear pain or fluid seeping from your ear
  • The sensation that you or the area around you is spinning (vertigo)

The two most common causes of gradual hearing loss are noise and age.

  • Noise-induced hearing loss can happen gradually over time. Exposing yourself to loud noises everyday (loud music, lawn mower, power tools, etc.) can damage the structures in your inner ear. A sudden loud noise, like an explosion, can also impact your hearing.
  • Age-related hearing loss is caused by changes in your inner ear that occur as you grow older. This type of hearing loss is always permanent.

If you experience sudden hearing loss, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Early treatment may be able to help restore your hearing loss.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Hearing Loss

Your doctor will likely do a physical exam of your ears and talk to you about your symptoms. If hearing loss is suspected, your doctor will recommend hearing tests, which are sometimes done by an audiologist.

Treating your hearing loss will depend on the type you have. Hearing aids may be helpful if you have age or noise-induced hearing loss. In other cases, removing earwax or taking medicine for an infection can restore your hearing.

Talk to your Mercy ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor or audiologist to determine which treatment option is best for you.

Preventing Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, you can’t control age-related hearing loss. There are some simple things you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, though.

  • Avoid loud noise. For example, heavy machinery, loud music, loud vehicles, power tools, lawn mowers.
  • Keep the volume down. If you’re listening to videos or music through ear buds or headphones, make sure the volume is not turned all the way up.
  • Wear earplugs or earmuffs. If you must be around loud noises, protect your ears as much as possible.
  • Ask your ENT or audiologist for a hearing test (audiogram) to establish a baseline for your hearing. This can be helpful in determining if you should take action to prevent further hearing loss.

If you suspect you’re suffering from hearing loss, talk to your Mercy ENT or audiologist. Our specialists can help restore your hearing and get you back to enjoying the voices, music and sounds you love.

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