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Hearing Loss

What Should You Know About Hearing Loss in Adults?

  • Hearing loss usually develops slowly, often worsens with age and is generally permanent.
  • Most hearing difficulties can be helped by individually selected, prescribed and fitted hearing aids.
  • It is important to first determine whether or not you might have a hearing impairment. Information provided here, especially in the self-test, should be helpful in addressing this concern.
  • It is typical for individuals with a mild to moderate hearing loss to be unaware of their problem, even though family and friends are quite aware of it.
  • Hearing loss is invisible and almost always painless. There are no physical warning signs, except in some cases there may be ringing in the ear(s). But, the real reason hearing loss "sneaks" up on you is that the change is so gradual.
  • Most hearing losses develop over a period of 25 to 30 years. By age 50 or 60, there can be enough deterioration to interfere with conversation.
  • Patients with "nerve deafness" and high-frequency hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing aids in most cases.
  • One is never too old to start using hearing aids. Today, over 95% of patients with hearing loss can successfully wear hearing aids.

What Should You Know About Hearing Loss in Children?

  • Hearing loss is the most common congenital anomaly found in newborns and yet all newborns are not routinely tested for it.
  • Approximately 3 in 1000 babies are born with a significant hearing loss, and many more children are born with milder forms of hearing loss (White, Mehl and Thompson, 1998).
  • 14.9% of US children ages six to nineteen have a measurable hearing loss in one or both ears (Niskar et. al.,1998).
  • Any degree of hearing loss can be educationally handicapping for children. Even children with mild to moderate hearing loss can miss up to 50% of classroom discussions. Unmanaged hearing loss in children can affect their speech and language development, academic capabilities and educational development, and self-image and social/ emotional development.
  • Studies estimate that as much as 90% of what young children learn is attributable to the reception of incidental conversations around them (Flexer, 1993).
  • 37% of children with only minimal hearing loss fail at least one grade (Bess, 1998).
  • All children can be evaluated for hearing loss. Even children who are only minutes old can have their hearing assessed using tests that are safe, painless and easy to administer.
  • Recent NIH studies have shown that children with hearing loss who are identified and receive early intervention prior to six months of age develop significantly better language ability than children identified after six months of age.
  • The average age of identification of early-onset hearing loss in the U.S. is two years of age.


Page modified 12/7/15