Senior Health

Hearing Loss

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss is a medical disorder that affects nearly 36 million adults in the United States. Seniors are the largest group affected by hearing loss with one in three adults over age 60 and nearly half of adults between ages 75-85 having hearing loss. The contributors range from excessive noise, drugs, viral or bacterial infections, head injury or head tumors, stroke and heredity.

What are the symptoms?

  • Certain sounds seem too loud
  • Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy areas
  • Hard to tell high-pitched sounds (such as "s" or "th") from one another
  • Less trouble hearing men's voices than women's voices
  • Problems hearing when there is background noise
  • Voices that sound mumbled or slurred

What treatment options are available?

Non-Surgical Options

Ear Wax Blockage Removal

Ear wax blockage is a common reversible cause of hearing loss. Your doctor may remove ear wax by loosening it with oil and then flushing, scooping or suctioning the softened wax out.

Hearing Aid

Hearing aids are battery-operated devices that help by making sounds stronger and easier for you to hear. There are three basic styles of hearing aids which differ by size, placement on or inside the ear, and amplification standards. They each work differently, depending on the electronics used.

Surgical Option

Cochlear Implant

A cochlear implant is a surgically-placed appliance that helps to transmit electrical stimulation to the inner ear. Unlike a hearing aid that amplifies sound in your ear canal, a cochlear implant bypasses damaged portions of the ear and stimulates the auditory nerve. If you have severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be an option for you. An implant does not restore normal hearing.