An Audiologist’s Guide to Hearing Loss

by Callum McPhillips

We have 5 senses vital to everyday life, yet hearing is thought to be one of the most important. In terms of communication, hearing allows us to connect with loved ones, contributing to our happiness and well-being.

However, to communicate effectively, our hearing should be accurate and instant. Hearing reduction can gradually affect how well we communicate with one another.

 

Hearing reduction

 

Because hearing loss can be so gradual once many of us reach 50, it can be difficult to detect hearing reduction over several years. People close to you are often the first to notice.

Yet, suffering from hearing loss is not necessarily a serious condition. There are many hearing solutions available. Suffering from hearing loss is no more serious than experiencing a loss of close vision. Yet, even mild hearing loss can affect our quality of life and how effectively we communicate with others.

 

Causes of hearing loss

 

There are several potential causes of hearing loss. Some of these include:

  • Ageing
  • Genetics
  • Infection
  • noise exposure
  • trauma, strokes and more.

It can be difficult to determine the exact cause of hearing loss sometimes, yet often it is due to the natural ageing process. Only 1.7% of people aged below 40 in western society (NIDCD) suffer from significant hearing loss, yet these figures increase after the age of 40.

 

Levels of hearing loss

 

There are different degrees of hearing loss. These include:

  1. Normal
  2. Mild
  3. Moderate
  4. Severe
  5. Profound

There are, however, solutions to each above level of hearing loss.

 

Hearing solutions

 

Each level of hearing loss has its own issues and solutions. It is important to look for solutions quickly if possible. Taking a proactive approach by having regular hearing tests and check-ups can catch any form of hearing loss early.

Over 90% of people who experience hearing loss are in groups 1-3. It is straightforward to find hearing solutions for these degrees of hearing loss. Same-day solutions can even be arranged.

Some solutions include hearing aids, as well as several hearing accessories which work in conjunction with phones, doorbells, and televisions. There are hearing solutions which can help with several aspects of hearing, not just communicating. Following a hearing test, if appropriate, the audiologist will be able to determine which hearing aid and programming are most suitable for you. The programming is just as important as the hearing aid.

 

Hearing tests

 

Audiologists can carry out regular hearing checks to maintain good ear health.

As mentioned, hearing loss is usually gradual, with the slow decline being hard to detect. It is often picked up by loved ones before us. This is why regular hearing checks are so important. They are quick, non-invasive, and often free of charge. If same-day service is available solutions can be provided on the day.

 

What is normal hearing?

 

The 2 main elements of normal hearing are volume and frequency. Volume determines how loud (how many decibels) a sound needs to be before we hear it, whereas frequency determines the range of pitch we are able to identify. This is why there is a difference between how loudly and how clearly we hear.

Hearing tests determine the effectiveness of both elements. Audiologists can then determine an appropriate hearing solution depending on the results of the test.

 

When should we have regular hearing tests?

 

Whereas eyesight begins to reduce from 40, our hearing naturally reduces from the age of 50. Usually, our ability to hear frequencies reduces first, then eventually volume reduces too. Hearing loss does not necessarily affect our quality of life until it interferes with how well we hear volume and clarity of speech. This can take many years of gradual hearing loss.

Over 40% of people of 50 experience hearing loss, this figure rises to 70% for people aged over 70.

Hearing is vital for communicating with loved ones and forming connections with new people. When our hearing decreases, whether it is how well we perceive volume or frequency, this ultimately affects our quality of life.

Hearing tests can determine how you struggle to hear and allow an audiologist to provide you with appropriate solutions. Modern hearing aids restore hearing ability similarly to how glasses restore vision.

Ultimately, hearing solutions can have a great effect on our hearing, and our everyday lives.

 

Sources:

  • National Hearing Care, RNID,  The Hearing Review, NIDCD

 

About the author

Callum McPhillips works for Alderley Hearing. Alderley Hearing is an independent hearing specialist based in Cheshire, UK, offering personalised hearing solutions, hearing aid aftercare and earwax removal.

 

 


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