“Can you hear me now?”
More than a clever advertising catchphrase, it can be a reality for many people who know someone with hearing loss. For some, the first signs of hearing loss are noticed by their loved ones not themselves.
“If you frequently need people to repeat what they say or notice that you hear some sounds but not others, you may have hearing loss,” said Dr. Alex Sweeney, assistant professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
Hearing loss can be caused by a number of issues, but there are two main types: an inability to perceive sound and the inability to understand what you hear.
In the first case, volume is the issue. An individual may know someone is speaking, but does not hear the voice at an appropriate volume.
When speech understanding is the issue, an individual hears the sound at an appropriate volume, but the message is distorted when traveling from the inner ear to the brain, Sweeney said.
“These are equally debilitating and affect quality of life, and unfortunately, both forms of hearing loss can be at play simultaneously in many cases” he said.
Another indication of hearing loss is the inability to hear some sounds but not all sounds. For example, individuals lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds before low frequency sounds.
Some people also suffer from tinnitus, or the ringing in the ear.
“Tinnitus occurs when the brain is no long receiving hearing information from the ear,” he said. “For a reason that is not well-understood, we believe the brain fills the unused pathway from the ear to the brain with ringing, buzzing or sometimes even a swooshing sound.”
For more information or to make an appointment for a hearing test, call 713-798-5900.
-By Julia Parsons