Could you have a hidden hearing loss?
Do you sometimes have trouble hearing? Perhaps you miss a few words in a conversation, especially in noisy places? Or you don’t quite catch the gist of a show on TV because the main character seems to mumble.
If tested, your hearing may even be within what’s considered a ‘normal’ range. Yet the problem persists and can be really annoying.
Hidden hearing loss often affects younger people
Recent research has discovered that a condition called hidden hearing loss (HHL) is real. While hearing loss is often associated with older people, hidden hearing loss can be a problem for younger adults.
Around 12% of people have this problem. It affects their quality of life and their ability to join in the conversation at home, at work and when they’re out socialising.
Why don’t standard hearing tests pick up your hearing problem?
It turns out, having ‘normal’ hearing, as measured by hearing specialists, does not mean people always hearing clearly.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Normal hearing is measured as hearing sounds at -15 dB to +15 dB HL. Having this level of hearing usually means you’re sensitive to sounds, including quiet sounds. But there’s also some variation that means some people do miss out on certain sounds.
The causes of hidden hearing loss include:
- exposure to noise – this could be in the workplace or as a result of our day-to-day activities like listening to music (too loud).
- ageing – because the nerve cells in our inner ear don’t renew themselves, we naturally lose our hearing sensitivity as we age.
- exposure to ototoxic drugs – some of these drugs are ones we commonly use, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, certain antibiotics, certain cancer medications, water pills and diuretics.
People with hidden hearing loss often complain of tinnitus – the annoying ‘ringing in the ears’ that can drive you crazy.
What should you do if you think you have hearing loss?
If you are missing sounds, especially speech in noisy places, you need to speak to your hearing care clinician about your options.
- Have your hearing tested – The first step is to have a comprehensive hearing test. But even if the results are within a normal range, explain your hearing difficulties to your hearing care clinician. Your ‘subjective’ opinion counts!
- Consider your options for treatment – Your clinician should be able to discuss all the available options to help you hear more clearly.
Your treatment options may include:
- Hearing aids – these days there are many discreet, well-fitted devices that can be finely tailored to your hearing loss.
- Wireless technology – the latest Digital Microphone (RM) Systems can capture sound and deliver that sound via a receiver. This can increase a person’s ability to hear speech in noise.
- Tinnitus treatment – if your hearing loss is accompanied by tinnitus symptoms, there are ways to help reduce this problem. They include mindfulness and stress-relief techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy (where you take your attention away from the ‘ringing’ noise). Professional counselling can also help.
Any other concerns?
If you have any questions about your hearing, please give us a call on 1300 017 732 to make an appointment.
As an independent, family-owned hearing care clinic, you’ll also find we like to look after our clients and offer good discounts and competitive prices on all of our hearing solutions.
Article by Jason Rayment