What Is Bilateral Hearing Loss?

Bilateral hearing loss in Daytona, FL
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Hearing loss is a common condition affecting millions of people worldwide, and Elite Hearing Centers of America is committed to helping patients in FL, GA, WI, NC, and SC manage it. Some people lose their hearing gradually over time, while others lose it suddenly. Among the different types of impairment is bilateral hearing loss, a form of sensorineural hearing loss that causes loss in both ears. Any form of sensorineural loss is permanent, and anyone with it should see a hearing care provider to help them manage the condition for a better quality of life.

Conductive vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss

There are three primary types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
  • Conductive Hearing Loss - This type occurs when sound waves are not efficiently conducted through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the middle ear. It's usually temporary; the cause could be a blockage, like earwax buildup, or an infection.
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss - Sensorineural loss is the most common type, and hearing damage in this category is usually permanent. It happens when there's harm to the cochlea in the inner ear or the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss - This category is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. It can occur when the ear sustains damage in more than one place in related or unrelated incidents.

Levels of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Bilateral hearing damage affects both ears. However, the impairment can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, so both ears could have the same level of loss, or one could have moderate loss and mild loss in the other. A Hearing assessment and evaluation with a hearing care provider should be completed to diagnose hearing loss accurately.

Bilateral Hearing Loss Symptoms

Bilateral hearing loss can be difficult to notice right away because so many cases develop gradually over time. It's critical to pay attention to changes in your hearing ability, especially for adults over the age of 50, because that's when hearing loss due to age starts to occur. Some of the common signs of bilateral hearing loss include:
  • Difficulty hearing speech, sounds, and music
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Turning up the volume on the TV or radio
  • Inability to follow a conversation between two or more people
  • Trouble picking out sounds in noisy environments
  • Tinnitus or ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears

Causes of Bilateral Hearing Loss

It's important to remember bilateral hearing loss simply refers to a form of sensorineural hearing loss that affects both ears. Sensorineural conditions and damage to the inner ear can occur for various reasons. Common causes include:
  • Aging - Adults 65 and older experience hearing loss naturally due to a breakdown of the ear components, and by 75, one in two adults have measurable, permanent hearing loss.
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss - Loud noises over 85 decibels (dB) cause hearing loss. People around machinery cranking out 80-85 dB of noise at work for eight hours or more daily are at risk. Noise louder than 85 dB, such as gas-powered landscaping equipment, power tools, and live music, can damage hearing at shorter intervals.
  • Illnesses - Some medical conditions, such as Ménière's disease, can cause permanent hearing loss.

Managing Bilateral Hearing Loss

Hearing aids are the most popular solution to manage bilateral and other sensorineural hearing loss affecting one or both ears. These conditions are irreversible, but an aid amplifies sound and sends it to the ear, enabling the brain to process it. Today's modern hearing aids are discreet and incorporate advanced technological features like Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable batteries. We offer custom fittings and programming to deliver the best user experience.

Hearing Loss Prevention

While sensorineural and bilateral hearing loss are part of the natural aging process, there are some preventive measures everyone can take to ensure it doesn't come on prematurely. These include:
  • Avoiding exposure to loud noise
  • Using earplugs or earmuffs in loud environments
  • Not using cotton swabs to clean the ears
  • Talking to your doctor about the potential ototoxicity of medications, which can damage the ears

Schedule a Free Hearing Test for Sensorineural Hearing Loss

If you or a loved one are showing signs of bilateral hearing loss, schedule a free hearing test at an Elite Hearing Care Centers of America location in FL, GA, WI, NC, or SC. We offer complete evaluations and free hearing trials to help you find the perfect device to match your condition and budget. Hearing damage is a widespread problem that affects millions of adults, and while there isn't a cure, hearing aids can help you hear better and improve your life. Locate one of our hearing care centers near you to schedule your free hearing test today.

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