Hearing loss can be due to the aging process, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (birth or prenatal) or hereditary factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. Recent data suggests there are over 34 million Americans with some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs gradually throughout a lifetime. People with hearing loss compensate often without knowing they have hearing loss.
Common signs of hearing loss include:
- You hear people speaking but you have to strain to understand their words.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
- You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story or the punch line.
- You frequently complain that people mumble.
- You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
- You play the TV or radio louder than your friends, spouse and relatives.
- You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
- You find that looking at people when they speak to you makes it easier to understand.
- You miss environmental sounds such as birds or leaves blowing.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a hearing professional to have an “audiometric evaluation.” An audiometric evaluation (AE) is the term used to describe a diagnostic hearing test, performed by a licensed hearing professional. An AE is not just pressing the button when you hear a “beep.” Rather, an audiometric evaluation allows the hearing professional to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss, and tells the professional how well or how poorly you understand speech. Speech understanding testing provides the professional with information about how successful amplification may be for your hearing loss.
The AE should also include a thorough case history (interview) as well as visual inspection of the ear canals and eardrum. Further tests of the middle ear function may also be performed. The results of the AE are useful to the physician should the hearing professional conclude that your hearing loss may be treated with medical or surgical alternatives. Results of the AE are plotted on a graph referred to as an audiogram. The audiogram provides a visual of your hearing test results across various frequencies.
All batteries are toxic and dangerous if swallowed. Keep all batteries (and hearing aids) away from children and pets. If anyone swallows a battery it is a medical emergency and the individual needs to see a physician immediately. If a battery is swallowed, immediately call the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 (call collect if necessary) or call your poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
The sizes of hearing aid batteries are listed below along with their standard number and color codes.
- Size 10 YELLOW
- Size 13 ORANGE
- Size 312 BROWN
- Size 675 BLUE
Today’s hearing aid batteries are “zinc-air.” Because the batteries are air-activated, a factory-sealed sticker keeps them “inactive” until you remove the sticker. Once the sticker is removed from the back of the battery, it is active.
Do Not store zinc air batteries in the refrigerator. Water particles will form under the sticker and oxygen will reach the battery. Batteries should be stored in a cool location.
Battery Safety Warning
There was an incident where a used Zinc Air Cell Battery was stored for disposal jointly with other batteries in a film box and burst with a loud bang. If battery cells which are totally discharged come into electrical contact with one another, an unintentional charging, and in exceptional cases, bursting of the cell is possible. Batteries should be recycled. Do not dispose of in fire, recharge, reverse polarity, or allow batteries to inadvertently contact metal objects or other batteries – – they may leak or explode and cause injury.
Tinnitus is the term for the perception of sound when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking. Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of another underlying condition – of the ear, the auditory nerve, or elsewhere. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. Its perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud. 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree. Of these, about 12 million have tinnitus which is severe enough to seek medical attention. Of those, about two million patients are so seriously debilitated by their tinnitus, that their day to day functioning is affected.
The exact cause (or causes) of tinnitus is not known in every case. There are, however, several likely factors which may cause tinnitus or make existing tinnitus worse: noise-induced hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, certain medications, ear or sinus infections, age-related hearing loss, ear diseases and disorders, jaw misalignment, cardiovascular disease, certain types of tumors, thyroid disorders, head and neck trauma and many others. Of these factors, exposure to loud noises and hearing loss are the most common causes of tinnitus. Treating a hearing loss, either by medical management, if indicated, or with hearing aids, may offer relief of tinnitus. Other new and effective tinnitus treatments are also available. If you have tinnitus, a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist, and a medical evaluation by an otologist is recommended.