Do I Really Have a Hearing Issue?

About hearing loss – Realize what you are missing

Sounds provide useful information and enhance the experiences that give meaning to our lives. Maybe you have already forgotten the sound of a purring cat or the crisp sound of snow under your boots on a cold winter morning.

Because hearing loss typically develops gradually, you may not notice the loss of subtle everyday sounds such as a ticking clock or a rustling newspaper. Before you know it, you are missing sounds that are critical to communication.

Can you hear the sound of:

  • a bird singing in the garden?
  • your sister’s voice on the phone?
  • a car’s turn signal?
  • friends’ conversation at a favorite restaurant?
  • your neighbor’s knock on your front door?
  • rain on a warm summer evening?
  • a child’s giggle?
  • the jingle to your favorite TV show?

Untreated hearing loss has many consequences

Living with untreated hearing loss means difficulties in conversations with loved ones, at social gatherings, and work settings. Often it becomes too challenging to keep up with life around you.

You may even suffer side effects from hearing loss such as:

  • sadness and depression
  • worry and anxiety
  • less social activity
  • emotional turmoil and insecurity

Don’t put off making this decision

Most people typically disregard their hearing loss for five to seven years. This is a bad decision. Putting off the inevitable will just make it harder to rectify the problem. Your brain gets used to not hearing everyday sounds; the longer you live without these sounds, the longer it may take for the brain to understand them again. Regular hearing instrument use can help maintain your brain’s ability to interpret sounds.

Hearing changes often do not result in an overall loss of volume.

Some sounds remain as audible as they always were, yet others become harder to hear. You might notice that words just don’t sound clear. Why is clarity affected? Many people with hearing concerns find it especially difficult to hear certain sounds because their hearing issue affects a certain range of pitches. In typical hearing deficits, softer, higher pitched sounds become harder to hear, particularly from a distance. Also, speech has many quiet, rapidly changing high pitched sounds. A lot of guesswork may be needed to understand the actual word if some of the speech sounds are not heard clearly. An example is the word “fit” which can easily be confused with “sit,” “tick,” or “sick.” Conversations become more challenging when someone is speaking indirectly or when there is background noise.

Hearing changes can happen slowly over time, which makes it harder for people experiencing hearing issues to notice it. As with vision changes, hearing changes can be subtle and hard to detect.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Those who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss often complain that people mumble or that they hear, but do not understand, what is being said. The aging process is closely associated with sensorineural hearing loss, as is injury, excessive exposure to loud noises, viral infections, and meningitis.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear affecting the transmission of sound through the cochlea and/or the auditory nerve. Common causes include; exposure to loud noise, trauma, the normal aging process, & disease.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss can be permanent or temporary and result in problems in either the outer or middle ear. With this type of hearing loss, sound is prevented from reaching the inner ear. People who experience this type of hearing loss often find that voices and sounds seem faint or distant. Some causes of conductive hearing loss include infection, fluid in the middle ear, perforation or scarring of the eardrum, wax buildup, and unusual growths that obstruct sound waves.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when the transmission of sound through the outer and/or middle ear is interrupted. Common causes include; wax buildup in the ear canal, a perforated eardrum, fluid in the middle ear or damaged ossicles.

Mixed hearing loss

Some people have a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This type is called mixed hearing loss. Family members of those who are experiencing mixed hearing loss often report that their loved one listens to the television or radio too loud, doesn’t hear or answer a ringing phone or doorbell, and regularly asks them to repeat and/or clarify what they’ve said.

Mixed loss occurs in the outer and/or middle ear and inner ear. It is a combination of a conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. A mixed loss can occur when a person has wax blockage in the ear canal and damage to the cochlea.

Treatment of hearing loss

Most conductive losses can be treated medically, but there are times when hearing instruments are needed. Sensorineural losses are usually treated with hearing instruments and mixed losses are treated with a combination of medical treatment and hearing instruments.

For a more detailed overview of how human hearing works, learn more about how hearing works. You can also click the Hearing Assessment Form link below and take a simple test to learn if you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing changes.