Hearing Loss Overview
Types of Hearing Loss
Because it’s the most common hearing loss that we deal with at this clinic, for the rest of this article we will be referring mainly to sensorineural hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Sometimes hearing loss is sudden, but usually it is gradual and you may not be aware of it at the beginning. You will have more success in treating your hearing loss by being conscious of the early indications of hearing loss. It's important to notice it as soon as possible so that you can treat it.
The early signs of hearing loss can include the following:
- Being unsure of which direction the noise is coming from
- Feeling mental exhaustion after meeting friends in a noisy place
- Getting others to repeat what they say on a regular basis
- Watching the TV at a much higher volume than others around you
- Finding it hard to hear what people say when at the café or restaurant
- Persistent tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
It’s likely that someone else will notice your hearing loss before you do, so pay attention to the comments those around you are making.
Levels of Hearing Loss
It’s unusual for those with hearing loss to hear nothing at all. Four different levels of hearing loss exist, which are calculated by looking at the quietest sound you can hear:
- Mild: For those with mild hearing loss, the quietest sound they can detect is from 21 to 40dB. Sometimes mild hearing loss can make it hard to hear others talk, especially in noisy situations. Using amplification can help “sharpen” sounds and make others’ voices clearer.
- Moderate: For those with moderate hearing loss, the quietest sound they can detect is from 41 to 70dB. Without the use of a hearing aid it can be hard for you to follow speech and hear important announcements.
- Severe: For those with severe hearing loss, the quietest sound they can detect is from 71 to 90dB. Those with severe hearing loss generally have to read lips or use sign language, even if they are using a hearing aid.
- Profound: For those with profound hearing loss, the quietest sound they can detect is from 90dB. People with this level of hearing loss will start to see benefits from a cochlear implant, though hearing aids exist for profound hearing loss too.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Congenital Hearing Loss
Treating Hearing Loss
The way hearing loss is treated depends on the cause and how severe it is, but unless you are deaf or have profound hearing loss, hearing aids are the preferred method of treatment.
Even though it’s the best way to treat your hearing loss, very few people comparatively are using hearing aids. Of the 28.8 million Americans aged 20 to 69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, fewer than 16 percent have ever used them. For those who are older, fewer than 30 percent have ever used them.
Untreated hearing loss has been linked to conditions as diverse as dementia, depression and an increase in the risk of falls. It’s vitally important to treat your hearing loss in the correct way to reduce your risk of these conditions, as well as to maintain your connections with friends, family and loved ones.