What Causes A Hearing Loss?

The greatest cause of hearing loss is ageing. Other causes are prolonged exposure to loud noise, certain types of illness, ototoxic medication, heredity, middle ear pathology, or ear wax. The main types of hearing loss are Sensory Neural and Conductive. Sensory Neural loss, the most common type, occurs in the inner ear and interrupts the transmission of sound through the cochlea or auditory nerve. Conductive loss occurs when the transmission of sound through the outer ear or middle ear is interrupted. Many Conductive impairments can be treated medically. A Mixed loss is a combination of Sensory Neural and Conductive.

How Long Should I Wait Before I do something About My Hearing Loss?

Don’t wait. The longer a person waits to correct their hearing loss the longer it will take to retrain the brain to recognize speech sounds. The brain must be stimulated by speech signals. If it is deprived of these signals, it “forgets” how to recognize certain sounds.

Should I Get One or Two Hearing Aids?

Our brain “hears” better with two ears. In noise, our brain cancels out some of the noise by comparing the signal from both ears. The brain cannot do this comparison unless it receives two signals at equal levels. Another advantage to amplifying both ears is being able to locate sounds. Also, hearing equally in both ears allows the patient to hear in all directions. They do not have a “weak side”.

I Can Hear But I Don’t Understand?

Most hearing loss occurs gradually, usually affecting the high frequencies first. Speech has two main components, vowels and consonants. Vowels are the loudest and occur in the low frequencies. They contain about 70 percent of the volume of speech but only about 30 percent of the information we need for intelligibility. Conversely, consonants occur in the high frequencies. They contain only 30 percent of the volume of speech (they are soft) but have 70 percent of the intelligibility. A person with a high frequency loss may be able to “hear” low frequency vowels, but not be able to “hear” the consonants. The individual will get words mixed up and may complain that people “mumble”.

Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive?

There are many factors which determine the cost of a hearing aid. A basic analog hearing aid has not really changed in price in over 30 years. An in-the-ear hearing aid back then was about $500-$600 dollars, the same price as it is today. As inflation has increased, manufacturing costs have decreased for this type of hearing aid. New technology has advanced over the years giving improved sound and therefore, providing better comprehension. Some of these improvements include programmability, sound processing, feedback reduction technology, and directional microphones. These advancements cost manufacturer’s money for research and development, which are passed on to the consumer. Another reason is the size of the hearing aid. Smaller hearing aids require smaller components. Small components are more expensive to manufacture. Lastly, trial periods have an effect on the cost of hearing aids. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies hearing aids as a prosthetic device. Once an in-the-ear hearing aid has been worn by a patient, it can no longer to be used for any other patient. If, after a trial period, the patient decides he or she does not want the aid, it must be destroyed. These returned aids increase manufacturing costs, which increases the cost to all consumers.


More than 31.5 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss- approximately one in 10 individuals. It may reach 44 million by 2030
Among Americans ages 46 to 64, about 15 percent already have hearing problems, according to a survey by the Better Hearing Institute.
Two out of three people with hearing loss are below retirement age.
Sixty percent of people with hearing loss are male.
One in five people who could benefit from hearing devices currently ware them.
Hearing instruments are the necessary treatment for 90 to 95 percent of people with hearing loss.
Only 12 percent of physicians today ask patient if they have any hearing problems.
Hearing loss leads to stress and fatigue because it requires so much effort to listen to what someone is saying – particularly in a noisy setting.
The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) reported that hearing loss in older persons can have a significant negative impact on the quality of life. In the NCOA’s survey of 2,300 hearing-impaired adults, age 50 or older, those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and less likely to participate in organized activities, compared to those who wore hearing aids.
People with untreated hearing loss make, on average, up to $12,000 per year less than their counterparts who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids. Wearing hearing aids mitigates the loss in earning about 50 percent.
Advances in digital technology have dramatically improved hearing aids – they are smaller than ever with far better sound quality.
Top-of-the-line models feature “directional” or “high definition” hearing. These devices use two microphones and an algorithm to enhance speech coming from the front (the person you are talking to), while turning down sounds coming from behind (the rest of the noisy room).
The creation of devices using Bluetooth communication technology can turn select hearing aids into wireless, hands-free headsets. For example, Bluetooth enabled hearing aids may be compatible with Bluetooth cells phones.
Nine out of ten hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life, according to a survey by the Better Hearing Institute of more than 2,300 consumers.
Source: Better Hearing Institute