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Hearing Loss in the Digital Age: Navigating Challenges and Embracing Solutions

  • Category: Hearing
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  • Written By: LVMC Staff
Hearing Loss in the Digital Age: Navigating Challenges and Embracing Solutions

Hearing loss affects millions of people worldwide. Fortunately, thanks to constant improvements in technology, many people with hearing loss can now regain some of their ability to hear.

Though the digital age has definitely helped people with hearing loss, there remain certain challenges and barriers that prevent some individuals from seeking treatment.

Here’s a closer look at how to navigate hearing loss in the digital age, and how our hearing specialists at Lompoc Valley Medical Center can help you improve your hearing condition.

How Many People Suffer From Hearing Loss?

An estimated 15% of adults in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss.

Here are other interesting facts about hearing loss in the U.S.:

  • One in eight people over the age of 12 (which is about 13% of Americans) suffer from hearing loss in both ears.
  • Among people between the ages of 20 and 69, men are nearly two times as likely to suffer hearing loss than women.
  • An estimated 2% of adults between the ages of 45 and 54 have disabling hearing loss.
  • Disabling hearing loss affects nearly 25% of people between the ages of 65 and 75 and 50% of people over the age of 75.
  • Hearing aids could benefit about 28.8 million adults in the U.S.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. The type of hearing loss you have depends on the part of your ear, or hearing, that is damaged.

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when sounds cannot get through the outer and middle parts of the ear. You may not be able to hear soft sounds, and louder sounds may seem muffled.

Conductive hearing loss may be caused by an ear infection, a hole in the eardrum, or fluid buildup in the middle ear due to a cold or allergies. It may also be caused by earwax buildup, a benign tumor that is blocking your hearing, or a foreign object stuck in the ear.

This type of hearing loss can usually be effectively treated using medications or surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Damage to the inner ear can cause this type of hearing loss. Just like in conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss can make it difficult to hear soft sounds, and loud sounds may be muffled.

This type of hearing loss may be caused by an injury to the head or ear, or drugs that affect your hearing. It may also be caused by certain illnesses, a loud noise like fireworks, or a family history of hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss can usually be treated using a hearing aid.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss refers to a problem with the inner ear, and with either the middle or outer ear. The cause of mixed hearing loss can be anything that causes conductive hearing loss or sensorineural hearing loss. For example, you could have mixed hearing loss if you have a buildup of earwax and also recently attended a loud music concert.

What Is Hearing Loss in the Digital Age?

Hearing loss in the digital age loosely refers to hearing loss that may be caused by digital technologies. For instance, listening to music with earbuds and in-ear headphones at extremely loud volumes can increase your risk of hearing loss.

Other examples of digital-related causes of hearing loss may include:

  • Loud music concerts.
  • Loud club music.
  • Working remote jobs that require the use of headphones or earbuds.

Other common causes of hearing loss that are not necessarily related to digital technology include:

  • Construction sites.
  • Auto races and auto traffic.
  • Fireworks and firecrackers.
  • Gunfire.
  • Explosions.
  • Motorcycling.
  • Snowmobiling.

What Are the Newest Forms of Hearing Technology?

Though some digital technologies may contribute to hearing loss, some may also improve your hearing and greatly improve your quality of life if you do suffer from hearing loss.

For instance, hearing aids alone have changed for the better in countless ways in the last several decades—especially within the last five to 10 years. For many years, there was a stigma surrounding wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids were large, unsightly, uncomfortable, and had poor sound quality.

Today, many hearing aids resemble earbuds and are barely noticeable. They can even be linked to your mobile device so you can listen to music and talk on the phone, among many other things.

Here are some of the newest forms of hearing technology.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Hearing aids with Bluetooth technology can be used just like any other earbuds or headphones—only they come with the added benefit of allowing you to hear better.

These hearing aids can be paired with nearly any mobile device so you can listen to music, talk on the phone, hold video calls, and get directions while you’re driving a car. You can even adjust Bluetooth hearing aids on your own, which prevents you from having to visit a hearing specialist or audiologist.

Custom Hearing Aids

Custom hearing aids are hearing aids that your provider creates using a mold of your inner ear. This allows for a better, more comfortable fit. These hearing aids are also programmed specifically for you based on your type and degree of hearing loss.

Rechargeable Batteries

Many hearing aids now come with built-in rechargeable batteries. This cuts down on the amount of money you would otherwise spend on battery replacements. These hearing aids also save you time and stress, as they prevent you from having to visit an audiologist to replace the batteries and also help ensure you maintain your ability to hear.

Rechargeable hearing aids can simply be placed on a docking station at night to charge. Then, you can remove them from the docking station in the morning and put them in like regular earbuds.

App Compatibilities

Newer hearing aids come with the ability to sync up with hearing aid apps you can install on your mobile device. Hearing aid apps allow you to do the following:

  • Control the volume of your hearing aid.
  • Control sound amplification for ordinary earbuds or headphones.
  • Monitor your battery life.
  • Set up different sound profiles for different environments.
  • Connect with your hearing specialist.

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a small, electronic device that can improve sound for people who are deaf or who have severe hearing loss. It does not completely restore the ability to hear. Instead, it can better help you understand and interpret sounds and speech.

This device comes in two parts: an external part that sits behind the ear and an inner part that is surgically implanted under the skin in your ear. Cochlear implants are still a relatively new technology and are constantly being improved for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

What Are the Challenges Related to Hearing Loss in the Digital Age?

According to a recent study published in Laryngoscope, common barriers to treatment for hearing loss include:

  • The stigma of hearing devices.
  • Inconvenience.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • Financial limitations.
  • Comorbid chronic health conditions.

If you suffer from hearing loss and are facing challenges related to receiving treatment, mention your concerns to your doctor. Hearing loss treatment is now more enhanced and better than ever thanks to newer technologies.

Here are several tips that can help you overcome barriers standing in the way of hearing loss treatment:

  • Take time to look at and learn about the newest hearing devices. Many hearing aids are small and barely noticeable. They can also be custom-made to fit comfortably in your ear, and some have Bluetooth capabilities. If the stigma about hearing aids is keeping you away, visit your hearing specialist to check out the newest technologies.
  • Understand that hearing aids are no longer inconvenient. Today’s hearing aids can be controlled by the patient, and have rechargeable batteries—both of which are factors that make using them more convenient. Your doctor can talk to you in more detail about the convenience of new hearing aids.
  • Have realistic expectations about what hearing devices can and cannot do. The features of newer technologies may surprise you, but hearing devices may not completely restore your ability to hear. However, they do have the ability to enhance your hearing. Having realistic expectations can prevent you from being let down, and empower you to seek treatment to improve your hearing ability.
  • Ask your provider about financial options. Talk to your healthcare provider if financial limitations are preventing you from seeking treatment. There may be financing options available that can help you receive treatment for hearing loss.
  • Understand how poor hearing is connected to balance. Problems with hearing loss can often affect your balance and increase your risk for accidents and falls. Consider how hearing loss treatment could help improve your balance and allow you to be more active in your everyday life.
  • Think about how hearing loss treatment can improve your life. Better hearing can help you perform better at work or school, and can reduce strain being put on your relationships due to hearing difficulties. Being able to hear more clearly and efficiently can also improve your quality of life and overall well-being.

Otolaryngology Services At Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center is home to a dedicated team of experienced and trusted ear, nose, and throat specialists who can help you manage hearing loss. If you need treatment for any type of hearing loss, contact us today at (805) 737-8700 to request an appointment and to learn more about our many healthcare services.