Hearing loss commonly occurs as people get older, but the problem can express itself at any age. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends routine hearing assessment for all adults over 50. Dr. Jesse Tan of the Tan Head and Neck Center in Long Beach, CA asserts that hearing loss should be detected and followed to avoid the social and cognitive issues that living with reduced hearing causes.
Where Hearing Loss Originates
The ear is a complex sensory organ. Composed of the external auditory canal, tympanic membrane (eardrum), inner ear bones (hammer, anvil and stirrup) and sensitive hair cells in the cochlea and auditory nerve, the ear receives sounds of various pitches and volume and sends them to the brain where they are processed, or interpreted.
Hearing loss originates in any one or all of the structures that make up the ear. Something as simple as excess ear wax, or cerumen, may create a mechanical blockage which muffles sound. Your Long Beach otolaryngologist, or ENT specialist, easily corrects this hearing issue by removing the wax.
Other conductive losses related to the integrity of the eardrum or small bones in the ear require other interventions. Sensorineural losses in the auditory nerve result from some prescription drugs, heredity, aging, injury and other factors. This kind of hearing loss is permanent.
Hearing loss often expresses as tinnitus, a roaring, swishing or ringing in one or both ears. Or, people perceive that they cannot hear higher pitches voices, such as those of children, or distinguish words in a conversation where there is a lot of background noise.
Dr. Tan detects the kind and degree of hearing loss with various audiometric tests. In fact, pediatricians even screen newborns for hearing issues with an Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) test in which sounds are sent into the ear and the response of the eardrum measured.
Patients coming to the Tan Head and Neck Center get a visual inspection of the ear canal and also undergo Pure Tone Audiometry. Wearing a set of headphones, the patient receives a series of tones of varying pitch and volume. He or she responds by raising the hand or pressing a button to indicate which tones were heard. Hearing assessment includes a word recognition test which key in on softer consonant sounds such as f, th, s.
The doctor plots the results of a audiometric test on a graph called an audiogram. This graph shows how the right and left ears respond individually to the volume and frequency, or pitch, of different sounds. Dr. Tan classifies hearing as normal or, in the case of hearing loss, mild, moderate, severe and profound. The results help both doctor and patient decide the course of action necessary to improve day to day functioning.
Are You Struggling?
If you think you have a hearing problem, or just wish to get a baseline assessment, contact Tan Head and Neck Center in Long Beach, CA. One of the friendly staff members will arrange an appointment at your convenience. Call (562) 988-8818 today!