Although hearing loss affects nearly 20% of Americans, many people are unfamiliar with even the most basic and important facts about hearing impairment.

If you’re concerned about your hearing abilities or those of a friend or family member, learning more about the condition is a great first step toward successful diagnosis and treatment.

Getting answers to your questions about hearing impairment will help you feel more comfortable, confident, and capable throughout the treatment process.

This page aims to answer some of the most common questions we hear from our patients at Central Oregon ENT; however, it only covers a tiny fraction of the important hearing loss information available today. As you begin to learn about hearing loss, keep an ongoing list of any questions and concerns you have so you can address them during your next appointment.

What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss?

Hearing loss often sets in gradually, so noticing the signs can often be harder than it sounds. Common symptoms include difficultly understanding and talking with others, frequently needing things repeated, regularly turning up the volume on TVs or radios, straining to hear sound over distance, being unable to hear conversations when there’s substantial background noise, and experiencing a ringing in the ears.

I’m not sure if I’m experiencing hearing loss. What should I do?

If you or a loved one is suffering from untreated hearing loss, you are not alone. Only 1 in 5 people affected by hearing loss actually seeks treatment. Getting a hearing evaluation is the first step toward slowing down the damage and improving your lifestyle and relationships. Luckily, determining if you’re suffering from hearing loss is fast, simple, and effective — all you have to do is call to schedule a hearing assessment appointment. Annual hearing exams are recommended for anyone over 50. The results of the hearing tests performed during your evaluation will provide conclusive answers about your hearing health.

What causes hearing loss? Can I prevent it?

There are dozens of factors that can cause hearing loss, and only some of these are preventable. The most common causes of hearing impairment are aging and exposure to loud noise. Other frequent causes include buildup of earwax or fluid, infections, injuries, birth defects, developmental issues, ototoxic medications, and acoustic neuromas. The most important step you can take to prevent hearing loss is to protect your ears in potentially loud settings, such as when working with power tools, riding motorcycles, using firearms, operating machinery, and attending entertainment events.

I was recently diagnosed with hearing loss. What’s next?

Treatment plans vary for different types, frequencies, and severities of hearing impairment. Once your hearing specialist learns more about your lifestyle and studies your hearing evaluation results, it will be time to discuss your treatment options. First, you and your doctor will determine whether you will benefit most from medication, surgery, or hearing devices. Since hearing aids are by far the most common treatment for hearing loss, you will likely have to choose from one of the several hearing device styles and models recommended based on your needs, condition, and price range.

What do I need to know to choose the right hearing aids?

Professional help is the key to selecting the right hearing aids because there are so many factors, features, and options available in today’s hearing device market. Depending on the frequency and severity of your hearing loss, some of the styles will stand out as more effective options than others. You should also consider other aspects, including appearance, comfort, ease of use, price, battery life, and available features. Visit our Hearing Aids section for more information.

Are hearing aids really effective?

It’s no secret that the technology has advanced at an astounding rate in recent years, and the world of hearing aids is no different. Today’s hearing device market offers patients a huge selection of products, styles, features, and fits, making hearing loss treatment a truly specialized field. Digital hearing aids contain computer microchips, allowing for major improvements in functionality, features, settings, and more. Along with these new offerings in hearing device technology, hearing aids can be paired with many other advanced hearing aid accessories to further improve hearing in various settings, including parties, loud restaurants, theaters, and classrooms.