Hearing loss makes it hard to hear sounds. Some are born with hearing loss, and others develop it. Hearing loss becomes more common as you age, and about one-third of adults experience it.
There are three types of hearing loss:
- Conductive—a blockage of the outer ear
- Sensorineural—a problem of the inner ear or auditory nerve
- Mixed—a combination of the two
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Symptoms of hearing loss may include:
- Muffling of speech and other sounds
- Trouble understanding words
- Trouble hearing the letters of the alphabet that aren't vowels
- Often asking others to speak louder
- Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
- Being bothered by background noise
- Ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be caused by many things, including:
UR Medicine's Treatments for Hearing Loss
We understand that your ability to hear affects your daily life greatly. Our audiologists will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan to help you hear more clearly.
Depending on the cause and severity of your hearing loss, treatment will vary. Treatment may include:
- Removing earwax
- Surgery to insert a small tube to help drain the ears
- Hearing aids
- Cochlear implants
What is the Difference Between Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants?
Both hearing aids and cochlear implants are devices to help you hear better. Hearing aids are worn on or inside the ear, whereas cochlear implants are surgically inserted into the inner ear. If you need a device, our audiology experts will walk you through every step of the process.
What Sets Us Apart?
Our world-class audiologists, in association with field-leading doctors and surgeons at UR Medicine, provide patients with a complete range of services using the latest techniques and technologies.
Each member of our team at UR Medicine Audiology holds a master’s degree or higher and is New York State-licensed and nationally certified in audiology. Our providers engage in extensive research and are dedicated to advancing knowledge and expanding treatment options.
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Patient Education & Support
Tips to Improve Communication When Talking with Someone with Hearing Loss
Family members and friends of those with hearing loss can help improve communication by following simple suggestions.
Gain attention: Before you start talking, get the listener’s attention, such as by saying their name. If they hear better from one ear, move to that side. If necessary, touch the listener's hand, arm, or shoulder lightly. This simple gesture will let them prepare to listen to the conversation.
Maintain eye contact and avoid covering your lips and mouth: Face the listener and make eye contact. Try to keep your hands away from your face, as facial expressions and body language are important for communication. Many listeners also use lip-reading. To help, don’t talk with food in your mouth and don’t chew gum. Keep in mind that lipstick, heavy beards, and mustaches can also hide your mouth.
Speak naturally: Speak clearly but without exaggeration. You do not need to shout. Shouting actually distorts the words. Speak at a normal rate and try not to mumble. Use pauses rather than slow speech to give the person time to process speech.
Rephrase rather than repeat: If the listener has difficulty understanding something you said, find a different way of saying it. If they didn’t understand the words the first time, it's likely they won’t understand them a second time. So, try to rephrase it.
Speak somewhere without background noise: Try to reduce background noises when talking. Turn off the radio or television or move to a quiet place. When going to a restaurant, ask for a table away from the kitchen, server stations, or large parties.
Speak somewhere with good lighting: Whenever possible, speak where your face can be easily seen. Avoid strong lighting coming from behind you, such as through a window.
Consider other methods of communicating: Writing, texting, using visual media (such as pictures, diagrams, and charts), and finger spelling are other methods of communication. If the person you are speaking with uses sign language, communicating by sign language is best whenever possible.