An Audiologist’s Guide to Hearing Loss
17th Jun 2020
We are blessed with 5 key senses and hearing is an important one of them. Hearing is considered the ‘Happy Sense’ as it is the one giving the greatest contribution to happiness and wellbeing. Statistically, our greatest happiness comes from being involved with people, feeling close, involved and enjoying a fun conversation. Easy communication removes loneliness and it shouldn’t be hard work. Hearing well is about hearing accurately and instantly. It can keep us in touch with people whereas good sight keeps us in touch with things.
Having a reduced hearing ability doesn’t need to be any more serious than losing close up vision. Just as we get reading glasses when we can’t read small print clearly, we get hearing help when we can’t hear speech clearly. Hearing reduction isn’t an illness any more than reduced visual clarity is, but ignoring even a mild hearing loss gives a large number of disadvantages and results in a reduced quality of life, often without the person even realising or accepting the truth.
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by a number of reasons. These include genetics, physical trauma, impact, infection, noise exposure, reaction to some medicines, mental trauma, hormone imbalance, strokes, general blood flow interruptions and general life wear and tear.
As this list shows, reasons for a hearing loss are wide-ranging and it is not always possible to tell exactly what the reason is. Only 1.7% of people aged under 40 in western society (NIDCD) have a significant hearing loss, however, the figures increase rapidly after the age of 40.
Levels of Hearing Loss
There are different categories of hearing loss. These include:
Each category of hearing loss has its own issues and appropriate solutions. There is help available for everyone. But in all cases, taking action as soon as possible is key. Over 90% of people with hearing loss are within groups A, B and C. In these categories, it is straightforward to find solutions, often with same-day solutions.* These can be tiny instruments hidden in the ear or highly technical products which can connect directly to your phone and your TV, they can even tell you how many steps you have taken today. The devices can be automatic and speech specific, or Bluetooth compatible and controlled via your mobile phone.
Regular Hearing Checks are an important part of good health care.
Hearing decline is usually gradual, and slow, which means it can creep up on us unrecognised. We tend to be the last person to notice, even when people around us have to repeat themselves. It is difficult to accurately gauge gradual hearing loss. This is why having regular Hearing Tests is so important. Hearing tests don’t take long, they are free of charge and they keep you informed. We can often provide a ‘same day’ service so there is no reason to delay booking.
What is Normal Hearing?
Normal Hearing involves 2 elements; these are volume and frequency. Volume relates to how loud (how many decibels) a sound has to be before we hear it, and frequency relates to the range of pitch we can identify. This is why there is a difference between how loudly you hear and how clearly you hear.
What age does hearing loss begin to happen?
As we reach middle age our ability to hear frequency reduces, and then gradually volume reduces as well. This doesn’t necessarily affect our day to day lives until it interferes with the volume and clarity of speech. Typically, our eyesight reduces from 40 years of age, and hearing clarity reduces at 50.
More than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, rising to 70% of people over the age of 70. *
When do I need Hearing Aids?
Hearing is essential for enjoying and contributing to a conversation. This applies to both how loudly you hear and how clearly you hear. When our hearing decreases, this affects our quality of life and can even cause fatigue, as a simple conversation becomes a struggle. A hearing test will confirm where you are struggling to hear, and how necessary hearing aids are to your everyday life.
In most instances, a modern pair of hearing aids will restore hearing levels to normal in a similar way to glasses restore vision. We often recommend that you borrow a pair to experiment with before making a final decision on what to purchase. You can book a free hearing test here.
In other cases, we might refer you to ENT for further investigation, or even discuss cochlear implants. There are many solutions to hearing loss. To find out more, simply give us a call on 01625 582 140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ref: * National Hearing Care, RNID, The Hearing Review NIDCD