Learn about Hearing Loss

Hearing loss begins gradually.

Hearing loss creeps up little by little as the brain gets used to not hearing certain frequencies or sounds. Experts refer to this as “auditory deprivation”. Usually, people affected by it don’t notice it at all. But the later the brain is reminded of the long-forgotten frequencies with the help of a hearing aid, the longer it takes for the person to be able to perceive them and accept them at their normal volume again. 

Not all hearing loss is alike. There are many gradations between “good hearing” and “almost no hearing at all”.  Hearing healthcare professionals often distinguish levels of hearing losses using the terms mild, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss.

Measuring Hearing Loss

Our speech is made up of tones and sounds at different volumes and in different frequency ranges. The “speech banana” is a visual representation of these sounds as consonants, vowels, and sibilants on an audiogram.

Professionals use these audiometric measurements to calculate a person’s individual hearing loss and select a suitable hearing aid.

People with normal hearing can hear and understand the entire spectrum of speech. For people with hearing loss, it’s a different story: depending on how severe their hearing loss is, they may no longer be able to hear high tones (such as birdsong or rustling leaves), or they may have a hard time following telephone calls or conversations.

Your hearing is important. 

With hearing loss comes many potential health risks and barriers to experiencing everyday life as you would with normal hearing.

Whether it’s feeling anxious that you will miss important information or being embarrassed that you are unable to hear your family talking, hearing loss can stir up many different negative emotions

Hearing loss has been identified as an important risk factor in social isolation, brain atrophy and developing dementia particularly in older adults.1,2

Research has shown that untreated hearing loss is associated with a greater likelihood of falls and related injuries.3  

Living with unaided hearing loss can add extra frustration to things that were once simple, everyday activities. 

1.  Croll, Pauline H et al. “Hearing loss and microstructural integrity of the brain in a dementia-free older population.” Alzheimer's & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer's Association vol. 16,11 (2020): 1515-1523. doi:10.1002/alz.12151
2.  Deal, Jennifer A et al. “Hearing Impairment and Incident Dementia and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: The Health ABC Study.” The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences vol. 72,5 (2017): 703-709. doi:10.1093/gerona/glw069
3.  Deal, Jennifer A et al. “Incident Hearing Loss and Comorbidity: A Longitudinal Administrative Claims Study.” JAMA otolaryngology-- head & neck surgery vol. 145,1 (2019): 36-43. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.2876

Others are usually the first to realize that someone can’t hear like they used to. Family members and friends notice that you must ask people to repeat themselves more often, speak unusually loud on the telephone, or have the television so loud that the whole neighborhood can hear it.

Steps to Better Hearing

Hearing tests are the first step on the road to better comprehension. They provide information on how well you can hear, and on your individual acoustic needs. Your hearing healthcare professional will help determine your hearing needs on the basis of audiometric measurements. These tests provide the basis for professional consultation.

When it comes time to select the right hearing aids for you, your hearing healthcare professional will support you in many different ways. He or she will take not only your hearing test results into consideration, but also your personal preferences and your lifestyle. They will want a precise idea of your everyday life: Do you spend a lot of time outside in nature? Do you play sports? Do you like to listen to music? Do you play an instrument? Do you often go to movies or the theater? Do you travel a lot? Finding out which situations the hearing aids will be used in is a crucial part of the selection process.

After your meeting, your hearing healthcare professional will use a computer to program the hearing aids you have chosen, based on your specific needs and your individual test results. Then you’re all set to start wearing your hearing aids out in the real world. If necessary, you can have them adjusted again later on by your hearing healthcare professional or with many hearing aids you can personalize them yourself using your smartphone.  



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