To Hear Better, Is To Live Better

Who would have ever guessed that your struggle to hear correctly has a direct effect on so many other things going on in your body. Your hearing health does, in fact, have a direct effect on your overall health and well-being.

If you had asked Dr. Gyl Kasewurm and her team at Dr. Kasewurm's Professional Hearing Services in the Edgewater neighborhood of St. Joseph, however, you would have instantly learned of the serious impact hearing health has on so many other aspects of the human body's welfare.

Dr. Gyl and her professional colleagues both here and at Starkey are the first to tell you that to hear better, is to live better. Better health and wellness always start with you, but the reality is that achieving better hearing takes more than just technology. It takes a partnership.

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We all strive for the same things. To live better. To be happy and healthy. Until we recognize, however, how much our hearing health contributes to our overall well-being and quality of life, we run the risk of falling short of those things we strive for.

Dr. Gyl is a constant reminder to all of us that better hearing health and wellness are not only possible, they happen every day when you create that all important partnership that puts you on the road to better hearing health -- and consequently, better overall health.

To better understand the magnitude of the situation, consider these critical statistics regarding Hearing Loss in America amassed by the team at Starkey:

  • 1 in 3 people over the age of 60 have hearing loss...
  • 1 in 6 Baby Boomers have hearing loss...
  • 1 in 14 Generation Xers already have hearing loss...
  • 1 in 5 teenagers have some type of hearing loss...
  • Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in older Americans, after hypertension and arthritis...
  • Despite all of that...90 too 95-percent of people with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids.

There are two key types of hearing loss. They are Sensory/Neural hearing loss and Conductive hearing loss. Let's take a closer look at both.

Sensory/Neural Hearing Loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (the cochlea), or to the nerve pathways between the inner ear and the brain. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. Most of the time, Sensory/Neural Hearing Loss cannot be medically or surgically corrected.

Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal, to the eardrum and to the tiny bones (the ossicles) of the middle ear. Conductive Hearing Loss is often medically or surgically treatable.

As Dr. Kasewurm has always stressed, the earlier you detect a hearing loss, the better the chance you have of effectively treating your difficulty. She has to wonder, if you get your eyes tested annually, and your teeth cleaned twice a year, why not test your hearing?

Now that we know the types of hearing loss, let's focus on the causes of hearing loss. Reality is that a combination of factors typically contribute to hearing loss.

Presbycusis is an age related cause of hearing loss. It is the result of the aging process or extended exposure to environmental noise factors throughout one's lifetime, and creates a permanent change in the inner ear.

Sociocusis is a noise induced cause of hearing loss. The damage to hair cells and cochlea in the ear can occur suddenly or gradually. Approximately 26-million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds or noise at work or in leisure activities.

Congenital issues can be a cause of hearing loss. Congenital issues are genetic, and result from a family history of hearing loss or a predisposition to hearing loss.

Ototoxicity is a drug related cause of hearing loss. There are 200 or more known oxtoxic (meaning toxic to the ears) prescription and over-the-counter medications on the market today. The list actually includes such things as: Aspirin, Quinine, certain Antibiotics, some Anti-Cancer drugs, and some Anesthetics.

Dr. Kasewurm tells us that one in three people aged 65 and older live with a disabling hearing loss.

So, what are the Risk Factors contributing to hearing health? There are many, including:

  • Smoking. Current smokers have a 70-percent higher risk of having hearing loss than non-smokers.
  • Heart Health. People with low-frequency hearing loss are considered at risk for cardiovascular events.
  • Hypertension. There is a significant association between high blood pressure and untreated hearing loss. Hypertension can be an accelerating factor of hearing loss in older adult.
  • Diabetes. Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as their peers without.
  • Osteoporosis. There is a link between osteoporosis and hearing loss. Osteoporosis can adversely effect the three tiny bones in the middle ear, which can lead to hearing loss.

Untreated hearing loss is a health and quality of life issue, and there are many ways in which hearing loss affects your brain. Several studies link untreated hearing loss to negative effects on the human brain, particularly as we age. Here are several impact areas:

  • Memory and Hearing Loss. Adults 50 years and older with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than adults with normal hearing. Adults 75 and older with untreated hearing loss experience a 30- to 40-percent faster decline in cognitive abilities compared to peers without hearing loss.
  • Dementia and Hearing Loss. Seniors with untreated hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. Adults with mild hearing loss are two times more likely to develop dementia. Adults with moderate hearing loss are three times more likely to develop dementia, and adults with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to develop dementia.
  • Mental Health and Hearing Loss. Adults 50 years and older with untreated hearing loss were found to be less likely to participate in organized social activities than peers who wore hearing aids. Adults 50 and older with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report depression, anxiety and paranoia than peers who wore hearing aids.
  • Tinnitus and Hearing Loss. Tinnitus is the number one military service disability. The most common cause of tinnitus (ringing in the hears) are: noise exposure, aging, head injury and medication side effects. Tinnitus affects up to 45-million Americans.
  • Income and Hearing Loss. Adults with hearing loss who wear hearing aids have a lower unemployment rate than peers with hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids.
  • Falling and Hearing Loss. People with mild hearing loss (25-decibels) are three times more likely to have a history of falling.

Dr. Gyl Kasewurm, her team at Dr. Kasewurm's Professional Hearing Services, and the team at Starkey want you to know that it's important to take an empowered, proactive approach to health during every stage of your life, and they strongly encourage you to let that approach begin with your hearing health. Take time to learn about hearing loss causes and prevention so you can discuss them with the team at Dr. Kasewurm's Professional Hearing Services.

It's true, your hearing health has a direct effect on your overall health and well-being. Click this link for a detailed look:


If you'd like to have your hearing tested, contact Dr. Gyl Kaswurm today at 269-982-3444, or find her office at 511 Renaissance Drive, Suite 100 in St. Joseph.