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understanding bilateral hearing loss

As a type of hearing loss that affects both ears, bilateral hearing loss can occur symmetrically or asymmetrically. Learn more about the signs of bilateral hearing loss, what causes it and how you can prevent and manage your symptoms.
What is bilateral hearing loss?

When both ears are affected

Bilateral hearing loss refers to hearing loss in both ears. It can be conductive, sensorineural or mixed. It can result from a variety of causes and can range from mild to severe. It can impact an individual's ability to understand speech, enjoy music and other sounds, and participate in everyday activities

Bilateral hearing loss can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, meaning it can affect both ears equally or the severity of the hearing loss can vary between the two ears.

Book an appointment with one of our hearing centers to get your hearing tested for bilateral hearing loss.

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Causes

Getting to the root of the problem

As a type of hearing loss that often occurs gradually over time, bilateral hearing loss can be difficult to identify. This type of hearing loss affects both ears and can be caused by a variety of factors, including the aging process, loud noises, physical damage or blockage, infections and specific medications. It is generally a subtle decline in hearing abilities but can also come on suddenly.

Signs and symptoms

Recognizing bilateral hearing loss

Since we’re all so different, ears included, identifying a hearing loss issue can be tricky. Whether it’s in one ear or two, occurring suddenly or gradually, and a slight inconvenience or major roadblock for you, one thing’s for sure: The faster you can identify the problem, the faster you’ll be on the path to better hearing. 

Unsure if you’re dealing with bilateral hearing loss? Some tell-tale signs include:

  • Turning up the TV too loud

  • Struggling to hear speech clearly, especially in noisy places

  • Muffled hearing 

  • Reduced hearing in both ears

If you believe you may be experiencing bilateral hearing loss, contacting a Hearing Care Professional is your best bet. You can also get a complimentary online screening for a first impression of your hearing abilities. 

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Act now and test for bilateral hearing loss

Think you might have hearing loss? Take our online hearing screening today to better understand your hearing abilities. The screening is complimentary and takes just 5 minutes.
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Bilateral hearing loss audiogram

Decoding your hearing screening results

There are wide audiogram variations when it comes to bilateral hearing loss. Audiograms for bilateral hearing, in particular, will indicate hearing loss in both ears regardless of the type and could be sensorineural, conductive or mixed.

An audiogram is a visual representation of a person's hearing abilities, showing the quietest level of sound they can hear at different frequencies (pitches) on a graph. The horizontal axis displays frequencies while the vertical axis shows the level of loudness in decibels. 

It is important to consider audiograms in combination with a person's medical history, symptoms and physical examination.

The chart illustrates how one or two hearing aids can affect the hearing abilities of those with bilateral hearing loss. As you can see, depending of the type and level, a set of hearing aids can make it possible to approach a “normal” level of hearing.

Book an appointment with one of our hearing centers to get your hearing tested for bilateral hearing loss.
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More about audiograms
Bilateral hearing loss audiogram
Prevention

Healthy living helps your hearing

There is no magic formula to prevent bilateral hearing loss, but there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Protect your ears from loud noises
    Loud noises, such as concerts, loud music, and industrial or construction noise, can damage your hearing over time. To reduce your risk, it's important to limit exposure to loud noises and wear protective gear, such as earplugs, when necessary.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
    Good health practices, such as not smoking, avoiding certain medications that are known to damage hearing, and managing conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can help protect your hearing.

  • Get regular hearing check-ups
    Regular hearing screenings can detect any hearing loss early on, allowing for prompt treatment and reducing the risk of further damage. It's recommended to schedule a hearing screening with your doctor to ensure that your hearing is in good health.
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Treatment

Addressing the issue

Finding the proper treatment for bilateral hearing loss depends on the cause. For some, surgery to address damage may be required. For others, something as simple as targeting the source, such as earwax, may do the trick. Hearing aids can also be a great way to address permanent hearing loss. 

To find out the best course of action, we recommend reaching out to a Hearing Care Professional for a proper consultation. From there, you’ll be able to find the right solution together.

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Did you know?

Ancient hearing myths

Bilateral hearing loss was once believed to be a sign of supernatural powers. In ancient civilizations, people with bilateral hearing loss were often thought to be able to communicate with the gods or to have other mystical abilities. This led to a belief that bilateral hearing loss was a gift rather than a disability, and people with this condition were often respected and admired in their communities. 
Expert advice

The benefits of sound therapy

Bilateral hearing loss can be challenging, but sound therapy can help. This involves listening to sounds like white noise or nature sounds to improve hearing and reduce symptoms, such as ringing in the ears. Keep in mind that this should never take the place of professional medical treatment and it's always best to talk to your doctor first.

Bilateral hearing loss: FAQ

Can bilateral hearing loss be cured?

Is bilateral hearing loss considered a disability?

Can young people suffer from bilateral hearing loss?

What does bilateral mean in hearing?

Do hearing aids help with hearing loss?

What's the difference between bilateral and unilateral hearing loss?

Next steps to better hearing

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How to treat your hearing loss

Hearing health is one of the building blocks of a happy life. If you can understand how your hearing works and what you can do to protect it, you won't just be doing your ears a favor, you'll be boosting your overall health and well-being, too.
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Why take action on your hearing loss?

Hearing loss not only affects how you hear, but how well your brain is able to function. From protecting your physical and mental well-being to improving your career outlooks, your hearing plays an essential role in it all. With HearUSA by your side, you’ll have all the tools you need to stop the effects of hearing loss and start hearing better today.
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