What is hearing loss?
A common question we get asked is “what is hearing loss?” Hearing loss is a decreased sensitivity to sounds that you would normally hear. It can occur with varying degrees of severity and can affect people of all ages. In fact it is actually very common with an estimated one in six Australian’s affected.
Hearing loss is often cause by aging or frequent exposure to loud noises for a long period of time. Mild age-related hearing loss often starts when a person is in their early forties. Hearing loss can also be acquired through illness, accident and exposure to certain drugs and chemicals.
There are three types of hearing loss. These are:
- Conductive hearing loss. This can be caused by blockage or damage in the outer ear, middle ear or both.
- Sensorineural hearing loss. As a result of damage to, or a malfunction of, the cochlea (the sensory part) or the hearing nerve (the neural part).
- Mixed hearing loss.This can caused by both the conductive pathway (in the outer or middle ear) and in the nerve pathway (the inner ear).
When left untreated hearing loss can negatively affect people’s relationships with their friends and family. It can also lead to increased social isolation. Fortunately, treatments for hearing loss have made great strides in recent times. These include invisible hearing aids, which can be worn virtually undetected.
Always remember, you are not alone.
Hearing aids are an important solution for people with hearing loss. As far as hearing aids go the earlier they are fitted the better. If you believe you are suffering from hearing loss, review our symptoms of hearing loss blog. You can also contact us for a free hearing assessment.
Health and Hearing is a leading and individually owned audiology clinic with a team of highly trained professionals and audiometrist.
Hearing loss can occur over a long period of time. This makes it hard for people to identify it in themselves. Usually friends or family members will be the first to notice a person’s diminished ability to hear. Early intervention is the best way to manage a hearing loss. If you experience any of the hearing loss symptoms below personally or recognise them in a loved one, we recommend chatting to a specialist.
Hearing loss symptoms may include:
• Difficulty understanding words, especially in a crowd of people or noisy places.
• Frequently asking people to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly.
• Listening to the television or radio at a louder volume that previously or at a louder volume than friends and family.
• Difficulty following conversations with more than two people.
• A ringing in one or both ears.
• Reading lips or watching people’s faces intently when they talk to you..
Hearing loss can also affect people emotionally. Communication is a big part of how human beings connect with one another. When people struggle to communicate it can lead to relationship breakdowns, social isolation and depression.
Emotional symptoms of hearing loss include:
• Feeling stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
• Becoming angry or annoyed because you can’t understand what a person is saying.
• Feeling embarrassed to speak with people in case you misunderstand them.
• Withdrawing for social situations you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.
Hearing loss is not something you have to put up with.
If you have any of the hearing loss symptoms make sure you get it treated as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming worse.
Health & Hearing offers free hearing assessments for Brisbane residents. Find a location near you.
People with full hearing sometimes struggle to understand how confusing, frustrating and alienating hearing loss can be. Even a person with hearing aids may still struggle to follow a conversation.
If somebody you love has hearing loss there are communication strategies you can employ to ensure they can clearly understand and contribute to the conversation.
Here are our hearing loss communication strategies:
Before you begin a conversation get the listener’s attention. If they are not looking directly at you a wave or polite tap on the arm should do the trick.
For people with hearing loss sight is a helpful factor in determining what is being said. So that they can see what you are saying position yourself to face them directly, in good light and on the same level. If they have better hearing in one ear, make sure you are closer to that side. Do not try to call out to the person from another room, as this will only cause confusion.
Speak clearly, slowly and naturally. Remember to enunciate your words, as it can be hard to make out what you are saying if you mumble. Keep you hands away from your face and avoid chewing gum or eating while talking.
Try to conduct the conversation in quite room as background noise can make it difficult to hear. Similarly if you are talking in a group take turns talking rather than speaking over the top of each other. This will help to avoid confusion. Pay attention, if the person with hearing loss does seem confused, it may be a sign you need to slow down and speak more clearly.
Remember, shouting and over-exaggerated facial expressions and mouth movements will not help the situation. These will only appear rude and lead to more confusion.
Finally, the best thing you can do is to take it slow. Make sure if the person you are communicating with has trouble hearing you they have a chance to say so. Communication goes both ways so if you approach the situation together it should work out for the best
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding hearing loss, hearing aids or a loved one’s hearing.
Loved one not hearing like they used to? You are not alone.
Hearing loss can occur over a long period of time, meaning it is highly unlikely somebody with undiagnosed hearing loss will notice they have a problem. Quite often, a person’s partner or a family member will be the first person to comment that something might be wrong.
If you suspect a loved one may be suffering from hearing loss, take a look at the below signs indicating it may be time to get their hearing checked.
1. Having to repeat yourself
“Sorry what?” and “would you mind repeating that?” are phrases that
indicate something may be amiss. Miscommunication is a common issue with people who have trouble hearing. If you often find yourself having to repeat what you have said it is likely your loved one is struggling to hear you because they have hearing loss
2. The TV or radio volume is very loud
If you often have to turn the TV or radio volume down because it is uncomfortably loud for yourself and other members of the family, they may have hearing loss.
3. Distance in social situations
With everybody talking at once it can be hard for people with hearing loss to keep up with a conversation. If your loved one, who was once very social and talkative, suddenly becomes withdrawn they probably have trouble hearing. People can often feel stressed and embarrassed when they can’t keep up with conversation and distance themselves from the situation. If you see this happening to your loved one, you should encourage them to get their hearing checked.
4. Confusion and frustration
Living with undiagnosed hearing loss is hard. It doesn’t just make sound quieter but can muffle conversations confusing the person with hearing loss. As they strain to understand what is being said they may become frustrated. After all developing hearing loss is a life-altering experience.
If your love one does become frustrated, try not to take it personally. Remember they’re not angry with you they are just dealing with the stress associated with hearing loss. If you recognise any of the above signs in your partner or family member the best thing you can do is gently suggest a hearing test. Remember people can feel embarrassed when confronted with hearing loss so it is best to approach the subject with care.