Don’t Delay Seeking Care for Hearing Loss

Don’t Delay Seeking Care for Hearing Loss

Having trouble hearing can be physically and emotionally debilitating. After all, this vital sense enables us to communicate, socialize, work and stay connected to the outside world.

If you’re struggling to understand or manage hearing loss, Jamie Petroelje, AuD (doctor of audiology) with Holland Hospital Ear, Nose & Throat, offers answers to some common questions:

What are the signs of hearing loss?

  • Believing people are mumbling or speaking too softly
  • Having trouble hearing over the phone
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the TV or radio
  • Straining to hear conversations in group settings or public gatherings
  • Not being able to understand people when you can’t see their faces
  • Becoming more impatient, irritable or withdrawn than before

Who does hearing loss impact?

Hearing loss can happen at birth and develop as you grow older. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 48 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

What causes hearing loss?

Conditions that lead to hearing loss include age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), ringing or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus) and hereditary causes. Other factors that can diminish hearing include:

  • Chronic exposure to loud noises
  • Excessive earwax
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Head injury
  • Head tumors
  • Stroke

What should you do if you’re having trouble hearing?

First and foremost, don’t put off seeing your doctor. With today’s technological advancements, there’s never been a better time to seek treatment. The earlier you take action, the better your overall outcome and quality of life.

Go to the nearest hospital for emergency care if you experience sudden deafness or very rapid loss of hearing.

Who treats hearing loss?

In addition to your primary care doctor, professionals who address hearing issues include:

  • An otolaryngologist, also known as an ENT specialist, is a doctor who diagnoses and treats conditions af-fecting the ears, nose, mouth and throat.
  • An audiologist (AuD), is a licensed professional who specializes in the diagnosing hearing loss, working with patients to help them adapt to hearing loss and determine which devices, such as hearing aids, would be most beneficial.

What are the treatment options for hearing loss?

  • Surgical procedures for abnormalities of the ear drum, ossicles (bones of hearing) or persistent fluid buildup.
  • Hearing aids for damage to the inner ear. An audiologist can discuss the benefits of using hearing aids and fit you with an appropriate device.
  • Cochlear implants, which bring sound to children and adults who are deaf or severely hearing impaired. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are designed to mimic natural hearing by converting sound waves to electrical impulses and transmitting them to the inner ear.

Holland Hospital's team of otolaryngologists, licensed audiologists, speech pathologists, and other medical specialists delivers close-to-home, comprehensive care for a wide range of conditions—from repeated ear infections to balance issues to hearing loss. Call (616) 393-2190 for an evaluation.

  • Jamie Petroelje, AuD, CCC-A

    Jamie Petroelje, AuD, CCC-A

    Jamie Petroelje, AuD, CCC-A, is a board-certified audiologist. She earned her undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University and completed her doctorate degree at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Jamie is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology.

    Jamie Petroelje, AuD, CCC-A

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