48 million people in America suffer from hearing loss. Since 2000, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled. It remains one of the top health concerns reported by returning military service members and veterans. Other causes of hearing loss include: aging, trauma, constant exposure to loud noise, ototoxic medications, genetic factors, and certain infections.

Another common hearing problem, tinnitus, occurs when you experience persistent ringing or “buzzing” in your ears. This condition affects nearly 25 million adults in the United States per year.

If you’re struggling to hear what people are saying, or suffering from tinnitus, you’re not alone! Our expert specialists can help test your ears through advanced hearing testing, offer non-surgical treatment options, and provide the latest hearing aid technologies. Please call our main line at (928) 773-2222 to schedule an appointment and get back on the path to excellent hearing. For inquiries regarding implantable hearing solutions, cochlear implants or osseo-integrated hearing systems, please call (928) 440-5331.

Flagstaff Surgical Associates - Audiology


Symptoms of hearing loss include:

  • Muffled hearing.

  • Difficulty understanding what people are saying, especially when there are competing voices or background noise. You may be able to hear someone speaking, but you cannot distinguish the specific words.

  • Listening to the television or radio at a higher volume than in the past.

  • Avoiding conversation and social interaction. Social situations can be tiring and stressful if you do not hear well. You may begin to avoid those situations as hearing becomes more difficult.

Other symptoms that may occur with hearing loss include:

People who have hearing loss are sometimes not aware of it. Family members or friends often are the first to notice the hearing loss. Many adults may be depressed because of how hearing loss is affecting their relationships and social life.

If you have hearing loss, you may find that it takes extra effort and energy to talk with others. Hearing may be especially difficult in settings where there are many people talking or there is a lot of background noise. The increased effort it takes to be with other people may cause stress and fatigue. You may begin to avoid social activities, feel less independent, and worry about your safety.

Hearing devices you may want to use include:

  • Hearing aids.Hearing aids make all sounds louder (amplify), including your own voice. Common background noises, such as rustling newspapers, magazines, and office papers, may be distracting. When you first get hearing aids, it may take you several weeks to months to get used to this.

Hearing Loss: Should I Get Hearing Aids?

  • Assistive listening devices. These devices make certain sounds louder by bringing the sound directly to your ear. They shorten the distance between you and the source of sound and also reduce background noise. You can use different types of devices for different situations, such as one-on-one conversations and classroom settings or auditoriums, theaters, or other large public spaces. Commonly used listening devices include telephone amplifiers, personal listening systems (such as auditory trainers and personal FM systems), and hearing aids that you can connect directly to a television, stereo, radio, or microphone.

  • Alerting devices. These devices alert you to a particular sound (such as the doorbell, a ringing telephone, or a baby monitor) by using louder sounds, lights, or vibrations to get your attention.

  • Television closed-captioning. Television closed-captioning makes it easier to watch television by showing the words at the bottom of the screen so that you can read them. Most newer TVs have a closed-captions option.

  • Text messaging. You can type messages and send them from your mobile device to someone else’s.

  • TTY (text telephone). A TTY (also called TDD, or telecommunication device for the deaf) allows you to type messages back and forth on the telephone instead of talking or listening. When messages are typed on the TTY keyboard, the information is sent over the phone line to a receiving TTY and shown on a monitor. A telecommunications relay service (TRS) makes it possible to call from a phone to a TTY or vice versa.

Many other communication devices, such as pagers, fax machines, email, and custom calling features offered by phone companies, can be helpful. To get more information about selecting and using listening, alerting, and telecommunicating devices, talk to an audiologist.

Harmful Noise Levels – Topic Overview

The effects of noise on hearing vary among people. Some people’s ears are more sensitive to loud sounds, especially at certain frequencies. (Frequency means how low or high a tone is.) But any sound that is loud enough and lasts long enough can damage hearing and lead to hearing loss.

A sound’s loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.

Following is a table of the decibel level of a number of sounds.

Noise Levels

NoiseAverage decibels (dB)
Leaves rustling, soft music, whisper30
Average home noise40
Normal conversation, background music60
Office noise, inside car at 60 mph70
Vacuum cleaner, average radio75
Heavy traffic, window air conditioner, noisy restaurant, power lawn mower 80-89 (sounds above 85 dB are harmful)
Subway, shouted conversation90-95
Boom box, ATV, motorcycle96-100
School dance101-105
Chainsaw, leaf blower, snowmobile 106-115
Sports crowd, rock concert, loud symphony120-129
Stock car races130
Gun shot, siren at 100 feet140

As loudness increases, the amount of time you can hear the sound before damage occurs decreases. Hearing protectors reduce the loudness of sound reaching the ears, making it possible to listen to louder sounds for a longer time.

Preventing damage to your hearing

An easy way to become aware of potentially harmful noise is to pay attention to warning signs that a sound might be damaging to your hearing. A sound may be harmful if:

  • You have difficulty talking or hearing others talk over the sound.

  • The sound makes your ears hurt.

  • Your ears are ringing after hearing the sound.

  • Other sounds seem muffled after you leave an area where there is loud sound.

Most cases of noise-induced hearing loss are caused by repeated exposure to moderate levels of noise over many years, not by a few cases of very loud noise. Wearing hearing protectors can help prevent damage from both moderate and loud noise.

If your workplace has harmful noise levels, plan ahead and wear hearing protection. People who may be regularly exposed to harmful noise because of their jobs include:

  • Those who work with loud machines, vehicles, or power tools, such as construction workers, factory workers, farmers, truck drivers, mechanics, or airport ground crew workers.

  • Military personnel.

  • Police officers and firefighters.

  • Musicians.

You can prevent some types of hearing loss.

Preventing noise-related hearing loss

Being exposed to loud noise over and over is one of the most common causes of permanent hearing loss. It usually develops slowly and without pain or other symptoms. You may not notice that you have hearing loss until it is severe.

Be sure your child has regular hearing exams and follows the suggestions below to prevent hearing loss.

Steps you can take to lower your risk of noise-induced hearing loss include the following:

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  • Be aware of and avoid harmful noise. You can be exposed to harmful noise at work, at home, and in many other settings. Know what kinds of situations can cause harmful noise levels. To learn more about hearing protection in workplaces in the United States, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Use hearing protectors. If you know you are going to be around harmful noise, wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
  • Control the volume when you can. Reduce the noise in your life by turning down the volume on the stereo, TV, or car radio, and especially on personal listening devices with earphones or ear buds.
  • Don’t wait to protect yourself. After noise-related damage to the ear is done, it cannot be reversed. But if you already have some noise-related hearing loss, it is not too late to prevent further damage and preserve the hearing that you still have.

Preventing other causes of hearing loss

To lower your risk of other types of hearing loss:

  • Never stick a cotton swab, hairpin, or other object in your ear to try to remove earwax or to scratch your ear. The best way to prevent earwax problems is to leave earwax alone. For information on how to remove hardened wax, see the topic Earwax.
  • During air travel, swallow and yawn frequently when the plane is landing. If you have an upper respiratory problem (such as a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection), take a decongestant a few hours before landing or use a decongestant spray just before landing.
  • Stop smoking. You are more likely to have hearing loss if you smoke.
  • Make sure your child receives all the recommended immunizations to protect against pneumococcal disease, meningitis, and other conditions that can cause hearing problems. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.


Dr. Kerry Beasley, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA

Kerry joined Flagstaff Surgical Associates in November 2016. Originally from rural Missouri, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She then went on to earn a Doctorate in Audiology from the University of California-San Diego & San Diego State University’s Joint Doctoral Program. She completed her residency year working as an Audiology Extern at Yale University in New Haven, CT.

Kerry performs comprehensive diagnostic Audiology testing across the entire age spectrum. Her rehabilitative treatment services include hearing aids, cochlear implants, and osseointegrated hearing systems for both children and adults with hearing loss.