Hearing Loss


Hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the United States.

Hearing Loss In America

Of the more than 49 million disabled Americans, about 38 million suffer from significant (disabling) hearing loss. That is more than all those suffering from heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, blindness, tuberculosis, venereal disease and kidney disease combined.

Untreated hearing loss is linked strongly with dementia. A discussion on the consequences of untreated hearing loss can be found here. From the figure (left, top), hearing loss rises dramatically for people aged 50-59, and even more dramatically for those between 60-69 years of age. An explanation of this figure can be found in the next figure (left). The most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging.

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) affects 50 million Americans. 16 million must seek medical attention, and 2 million have trouble functioning on a day-to-day basis. Severe tinnitus can have a profound effect on the quality of a person’s life.

Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss, and could be as debilitating as the hearing loss itself. An expanded discussion on Tinnitus can be found here.

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As the video shows (bottom, right), sound vibrations move through the air like waves moving across the water.

Hearing Chart
Hearing begins when the vibrations reach the outer ear (see figure, 1), which acts to funnel the vibrations through the ear canal (2) toward the eardrum (3). Sound vibrations then interact with the eardrum, before transferring to a series of three tiny bones in the middle ear (4). These bones further amplify the vibrations of the eardrum, then transfer them to a sensory organ in the inner ear, the cochlea (5). Tiny sensory hair cells lining the cochlea (6) are responsible for transforming the sound waves into electrical signals that are interpreted in the cerebral cortex of the brain (see the video).

Types of Hearing Loss

The Three Types of Hearing Loss

Learn about the different types of hearing loss, including their causes and treatments, to better understand your hearing health.
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Age-Related Hearing Loss (ARHL)

Explore how age-related hearing loss occurs, its effects on communication, and what you can do to manage it for a better quality of life.
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Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

Discover how exposure to loud noises can damage your hearing over time and what you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
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Addressing and treating hearing loss can be a long, sometimes challenging process, but most of us are up to the challenge. There are many benefits to treating our hearing loss.
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