Coping With Hearing Loss
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
There are 2 types ofhearing loss in older people:
CHL is from problems of the outer or middle ear, such as:
It can also be from buildup on the bones of the middle ear. A hearing aid can treat some types of hearing loss. Other types may need surgery.
SHL is from problems of the:
Hearing loss from aging (presbycusis) is a common cause of hearing loss. People with it have a hard time hearing high sounds. It starts slowly in both ears. Other causes are from loud noises, medicines, and problems like heart disease. People with SHL usually need hearing aids. A cochlear implantcan help some people. Removing growths can also help hearing loss.
A number of tools can help you hear. These are:
You wear hearing aids in or behind the ear. They make sound louder as it enters your ears. There are 2 main types:
You can use assistive listening tools with your hearing aids or instead of hearing aids. A low-cost tip is to have the speaker talk into a microphone connected to the listener’s headphones. Other tools can link a listener to the sound system in a TV, radio, stereo, or public place.
Cochlear implants are for people with a lot of hearing loss. A receiver the size of a quarter is placed under the skin behind one ear. It sends sound to the brain. You wear a small microphone behind one ear. You also carry a small speech processor. Cochlear implants are for people with a lot of hearing loss. They bypass damaged parts of the ear with an implant. Parts of the implant are behind the ear and another part is under the skin behind the year. The implant picks up sound, arranges it, converts it into electric impulses, and sends it to the brain.
Tell your friends, family, and the people you work with that you have problems hearing. They can help you. Here are some steps that may help you hear:
Health and Safety
Talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to reduce your chances of hearing loss. Loud noises can cause harm. Ask about lowering loud noise and wearing earplugs or protectors. Also ask about safety steps you can take when you drive or cross the street. Getting the care you need can help you learn better ways to cope.
American Academy of Audiology
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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Cochlear implants. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/cochlear-implants. Updated March 6, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.
Conductive hearing loss. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at:
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Accessed February 5, 2018.
Hearing aids. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-aids. Updated March 6, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.
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Last reviewed January 2018 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 2/18/2014
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