Hearing Loss (Audiology)

Hearing loss is an invisible condition that isolates people from family and friends. The Audiology Center, conveniently located at the Fanny Allen Campus, is where we help re-connect people with hearing loss to the world around them.

Hearing Loss: What You Need to Know 

Prevention

Take steps now to reduce noise-induced hearing loss and worsening age-related hearing loss:

  • Use hearing protection at work - noise-reducing earmuffs or earplugs.
  • Have hearing tests - early detection of hearing loss can help prevent further hearing loss.
  • Reduce recreational hearing loss risk - wear noise-reducing earmuffs or earplugs when snowmobiling, hunting or attending a loud music concert. Take breaks from these activities too.

Technology

We evaluate, diagnose and treat hearing loss and related conditions for patients of all ages. Our specialists use the latest technology to diagnose hearing loss and treatment may include using the most advanced hearing aids. 

Personalized Care 

Our certified and licensed audiologists create an individualized treatment plan for each patient.  We also offer preventative services and community education to minimize the chances of developing hearing loss.

Experienced, Trusted Expertise

We offer two audiology programs that address different needs associated with hearing loss:

  • The Audiology Center - The Audiology Center performs diagnostic hearing evaluations for children and adults. We emphasize  meeting the unique needs of each age group, from birth to the eldest members of the community. The following services are provided:
    • Newborn hearing screenings and Non-Sedated Auditory Brainstem Response evaluations for infants. 
    • Hearing aid selection and fittings. 
    • Comprehensive audiological management, with focus on continuity of care. 
    • Hearing aids and alternative listening devices dispensing, as well as hearing preservation and conservation. 
  • Otolaryngology (Ears, Nose and Throat) - Performs specialized diagnostic and rehabilitative services for a variety of conditions related to hearing loss for both pediatric and adult patients

What is Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. Depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

There are a few reasons why people develop hearing loss, and several factors can increase your risk, including: 

  • Age - exposure to loud noises over time may result in age-related hearing loss
  • Family history - your heredity may make you more likely to suffer ear damage
  • Work noise - jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the work, such as:
    • Farming
    • Construction
    • Factory
  • Recreational noise - some noises can cause permanent or temporary hearing loss:
    • Explosive noises, such as from firearms and fireworks (sudden hearing loss, permanent)
    • Personal music players, such as MP3 players, when turned up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as those from a lawnmower (permanent)
    • Snowmobiling (temporary)
    • Motorcycling  (temporary)
    • Listening to loud music (temporary)
  • Medications - some can cause permanent or temporary hearing loss: 
    • The antibiotic gentamicin (permanent)
    • Certain chemotherapy drugs (permanent)
    • Very high doses of aspirin (temporary)
    • Other pain relievers (temporary)
    • Antimalarial drugs (temporary)
    • Loop diuretics (temporary)
  • Some diseases or illnesses that result in high fever - 
    • Meningitis

Common Hearing Loss Conditions

Hearing Loss in Children 

Hearing loss is the number one birth defect in America. Every year in the U.S., thousands of babies are born with permanent hearing loss. Of those babies, approximately one in 1,000 is born profoundly deaf while another two to three in 1,000 babies are born with partial hearing loss. 

Hearing loss can also be acquired later in childhood due to medical conditions, exposure to loud noise, and other types of trauma. Early detection and intervention are vital in the successful treatment of hearing loss in children.

The Audiology Center is certified by the Vermont Department of Health as a leader in evaluation and treatment of infant/child hearing loss. We manage the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program for all babies born or cared for at Fletcher Allen, and regionally. This allows us to diagnose hearing loss at the earliest possible age. Our goal is to minimize the impact of hearing loss on speech, language and cognitive development in infants and young children through early intervention.

Hearing Loss in Adults 

Adults can have hearing loss for a variety of reasons. For some, it runs in the family. For others, exposure to every day noises, such as listening to loud music or using a lawnmower, can damage the structures of the inner ear. It can be gradual or sudden. 

Hearing loss of any type or degree can lead to withdrawal from others and has been linked to depression and anxiety. There is evidence that older adults who have untreated hearing loss may be at higher risk for developing dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. 

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Tinnitus is common for people who have hearing loss, but can also be present when there is no hearing loss. The most common cause is exposure to loud noise. This can be a sudden, intense exposure (such as from a gun blast) or long-term exposure (working around loud machinery). It can also be caused by ear infections, medications and many medical conditions. 

There is no cure, but there are steps people can take to reduce the impact of tinnitus. Many patients who have hearing loss report that tinnitus is less obvious when they use hearing aids. Some people have found improvement by completing certain types of auditory therapies.

Earwax Buildup or Blockage

Earwax can build up or block your ear canal and affect your hearing. This condition happens to people of all ages, but fortunately is resolved by removing the earwax.

Hearing Loss Diagnosis and Treatment

The treatment that is right for you will depend upon your hearing loss diagnosis.  At Fletcher Allen, we use highly trained audiologists and the latest techniques to diagnose and treat hearing loss.

Our knowledgeable providers use advanced technology to treat hearing loss on a regular basis.

Learn more about hearing loss diagnosis and treatment.

Find a Fletcher Allen audiologist or call 802-847-3970.