Archbold Medical Center| Archives Magazine | Fall 2019

22 ARCHBOLD MEDICAL CENTER HEARING LOSS is one of the top three health problems in the United States. According to the American Academy of Audiology, hearing loss affects 48 mil- lion people in the United States. “Hearing loss can be the result of many factors, including noise exposure, aging, birth defects, various diseases and it can also be hereditary,” said Althea Grey, AuD, FAAA, at Archbold Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy Center. Signs of hearing loss include: •  Having trouble hearing over the telephone •  Finding it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking and in the presence of background noises •  Having to ask people to repeat what they are saying often •  Needing to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain •  Thinking that others seem to mumble when they are not “Hearing loss is categorized in levels,” said Dr. Grey. “There are four main levels of hearing loss severity: mild, moderate, severe and profound. All four degrees of severity can be found in most types of hearing loss.“ Types of hearing loss There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss, conduc- tive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. There may be damage to the cochlea (inner ear), auditory nerve or the auditory centers of the brain. “An individual with a sensorineural hearing loss may benefit from hearing aids, assistive listening devices, com- munication therapies such as auditory training and speech reading, or other medical management such as cochlear implant, depending on the degree or cause of loss,” said Dr. Grey. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear. Problems in the external auditory canal (outer ear), the eardrum or the bones of hearing (the middle ear) may cause a conductive hearing loss. “Conductive hearing loss can usu- ally be corrected with medication or surgery,” said Dr. Grey. “If it cannot be corrected, patients usually do very well with hearing aids.” Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both a sensorineural hearing loss and a conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids can help Depending on the severity of a patient’s hearing loss, their doctor or specialist may suggest getting a hearing aid. “There are different styles of hearing aids available today, such as behind the ear, in the ear and completely in the ear, but they all work very much the same,” said Dr. Grey. Hearing aids, powered by batteries, collect environmental sound waves through microphones. Those sounds are then sent to a digital computer chip within the device for functional adjust- ments based on the individual’s hearing loss. The hearing aids adjust for the indi- vidual’s hearing needs after it is properly fitted for maximum audibility. What’s that again? If you think you are showing signs of hearing loss, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or contact Archbold Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy Center at 229.228.2400. H a v e y o u HEARD? Althea Grey, AuD Audiologist