Hearing Health

Hearing and Understanding

Based on the severity and configuration of your hearing loss, you may find that you have specific complaints regarding speech understanding.

Some common complaints are:

  • I hear it loud enough, but I cannot understand it.
  • Everyone just mumbles.
  • I cannot understand the television anymore. I have to turn it up really loud.
  • I have trouble in my small group at church, or I cannot understand the pastor on Sundays.
  • I do not like to go to family gatherings anymore because I cannot understand what anyone is saying.
  • I cannot understand the server or my spouse when I go out to eat.
  • I have ringing in one or both of my ears that affects my hearing.

If you feel like any of the above complaints are similar to yours, contact us at 409-727-4327 to schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation!

Causes of Hearing Loss

Sinus or upper respiratory infection – sinus pressure, colds and congestion, allergies, or upper respiratory infections can cause a temporary decrease in hearing due to fluid buildup behind the tympanic membrane. An audiologic evaluation can determine the cause of the hearing loss and further treatment may be warranted to treat the cause of the fluid buildup.

Noise exposure – occupational, industrial, and recreational noise exposure can cause hearing loss. A temporary hearing loss may occur after exposing oneself to loud noise, such as a rock concert or operating loud machinery. However, repeated exposure can turn into a permanent decrease in hearing and possible tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Hearing protection is very important for preventing hearing loss.

Age – Decrease in hearing is common in the aging population. There is no preventative for age-related hearing loss (presbycusis); however, it is important to evaluate your hearing every year or sooner if you feel like your hearing is getting worse.

Hereditary – Hearing loss is sometimes related to family history. If you have a family history of hearing loss that is not noise related, it is a smart decision to have your hearing evaluated on a routine basis to watch for any decrease in hearing.

Genetic disorder – Hearing loss can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (present after birth). A hearing screening is conducted at the hospital usually a day after the baby is born to screen for possible hearing loss. If a hearing loss is suspected, follow-up testing should be conducted to confirm or rule out the hearing loss.

Ototoxic medications – Some medications that are warranted for cancer treatments or severe illnesses can have a negative side effect of hearing loss. Cisplatin and carboplatin are commonly used in cancer treatments and can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Gentamycin and streptomycin are used to treat severe dizziness and can cause hearing loss and tinnitus.

Treatment Options

Hearing aids can improve speech understanding in quiet and challenging environments. They are programmed and fine-tuned based on the results from the audiologic evaluation and the patient’s feedback. Hearing aids are specific to the patient and are individualized based on the patient’s specific needs and lifestyle.

Sometimes, individuals find that they need even more assistance with speech understanding in difficult listening situations such as noisy environments, work meetings, telephone conversations, or when watching the television. There are accessories available in addition to the hearing aids that are helpful in overcoming some of those challenges. Speak with one of the audiologists about these options at your appointment if you feel like you would benefit from an accessory for any of those listening environments.

Assistive listening devices can be beneficial for patients who experience difficulty in specific environments who are not a candidate or are not ready for hearing aids. This category includes: TV ears, pocket talkers, FM systems, etc.