Hearing loss and deafness are the result of sound signals not reaching the brain due to a problem somewhere in the hearing system. Approximately 1 in 6 people in the UK experience some form of hearing loss. Hearing loss causes an impact on many aspects of a person’s life including at home, in social situations and within the workplace.
Many people gradually lose their hearing through the natural ageing process and general wear and tear of the cochlea (organ of hearing). This is known as ‘age-related hearing loss’ or ‘presbycusis’. Hearing loss figures show it to be similar to the number of people developing the need for reading glasses as hearing loss affects over 50% of people aged over 50 years and over 70% of those over 70 years. There are however, many factors that can cause hearing loss other than age including prolonged exposure to loud noise, genetics, trauma, certain types of infections or quite commonly a blockage of wax. In many cases hearing loss generally happens so gradually that it can often goes un-noticed and it is very commonly family, friends or loved ones that notice first.
We categorize hearing loss into 3 main types:
- Sensorineural hearing loss is the permanent loss of hearing caused by damage to the hair cells inside the cochlea or damage to the hearing nerve (or both). It changes your ability to hear quiet sounds and sometimes causes reduction in the quality of the sound that you hear, making it appear distorted. This type of loss accounts for age related hearing loss and loss associated with noise damage.
- Conductive hearing loss happens when the cochlea and hearing nerve are functioning correctly, but sounds cannot pass from your outer ear to your inner ear, often because of a blockage such as ear wax or damage to the bones in the middle part of your ear. Sounds become quieter and sometimes sound muffled. This hearing loss may be permanent or temporary, and in some cases repairable by medical intervention. This type of loss accounts for hearing loss caused by stiffening of the middle ear bones (otosclerosis), a hole in the eardrum (perforations) and wax blockages in the outer ear.
- Mixed hearing loss as the name suggests, this is combination of both Sensorineural and Conductive hearing loss. An example of this type of loss may be when someone has natural deterioration of their hearing caused by age coupled with a wax blockage.
If you have any type of hearing loss, then the chances are it will also be affecting your family and friends. Maybe the loss has been gradual or perhaps a little more sudden. Whatever the cause, it’s worth understanding what kind of hearing loss you’re living with and our audiologist can assess your hearing to fully determine this and guide you through your treatment options.
Hearing loss and other health conditions
Research has shown you are twice as likely to develop depression with a hearing loss. It also increases the risk of anxiety and other mental health issues - although treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids helps to reduce these risks.
There is also vast amounts of evidence showing strong links between hearing loss and Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As the severity of the hearing loss increases so does the risk of developing Dementia. With mild hearing loss increasing risk by 50%, moderate jumps to three times as much and severe hearing loss the risk is as much as five times.
There has also been shown to be links between any type of diabetes and hearing loss alongside evidence that hearing loss is linked to other health issues such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and obesity.
Do I need a hearing test?
Many people do not know when to have a hearing check. Historically, people with hearing loss wait approximately 10-15 years to address their hearing loss – which is absurd!
These days it is good practice to have regular hearing checks above the age of 50. We recommend getting into the habit of testing your hearing so should it start to deteriorate it is picked up at the earliest oppertunity.
Hearing loss does not often affect all types of sounds at the same rate. When you are suffering from hearing loss, often the first sounds that are ‘lost’ are the beginnings and the ends of words and sentences. It is unlikely that you will notice your hearing loss as easy as you think. Because it doesn’t happen overnight, your brain has plenty of time to adjust to it and however you hear your brain will think is normal. That is why people with hearing difficulties say they can hear speech but they cannot understand what is being said clearly which often just appears as though everyone is mumbling.
The problem is further exasperated when there is background noise, from a TV on at the same time as trying to have a conversation but more noticeably when in group conversations with multiple speakers or in noisy restaurants or cafés.
So how do you know if you need a hearing test? Ask yourself some of the questions below to help to identify the signs of hearing loss. Have a look at the following questions and if you answer yes to any of them it would be worth getting your hearing checked.
Signs you should have a hearing test
Have a look at the following questions and if you answer yes to any of them it would be worth getting your hearing checked:
- Do you ask others to repeat themselves?
- Do other people comment on you have to ask them to repeat even if you do not notice this yourself?
- Does it appear that others are mumbling?
- Do you turn up the TV or radio louder than others would like?
- Do you have difficulty in identifying where sounds are coming from?
- Is it more difficult to understand conversation in background noise?
- Are group conversations difficult for you?
- Do you struggle to hear on the telephone?
- Have people commented that you have missed them calling you on the telephone or them calling at the door when you know you have been in?
The good news is that a full assessment with your audiologist is easy, pain-free and you can even book one at home. We are ready to guide you, whenever you are ready, to get you back to hearing clearly and enjoying life.
Call us today on 0161 706 0067
Supporting someone with their hearing loss.
Hearing loss is often a very complicated and difficult thing to address. After all, many of us don’t really want to admit that we might need a little help and can often find it be a little embarrassing too. Hearing loss is often something that people do not notice themselves and, in many cases, it is the people that are close to them who notice the first signs of their hearing deteriorating. Hearing loss can often be the source of many frustrations and arguments when the person has yet to address they have a problem.
Can you think of someone, a friend or family member perhaps, who you’ve noticed is struggling with their hearing?
- Maybe their TV or radio has been getting louder and louder in comparison to the volume that you can hear it at perfectly well. Even to a level that you may find uncomfortable.
- Maybe you’ve become aware that conversations are proving to be a bit of a strain for them and that they are increasingly asking for you or others to repeat themselves.
- Do you notice that a friend or family member has increasingly started to withdraw from conversations or avoid going to noisy places because they find them too overwhelming?
- Have you found yourself or them getting frustrated because they report that you are mumbling or not speaking clearly enough?
If so, then it’s important they know that they aren’t going through it alone and that they are supported and reassured that hearing loss can be treated. Talk to them about what you have noticed and explain there are many ways of successfully dealing with hearing loss.
Recommend that they see a professional who can assess if their hearing has deteriorated. We are happy to speak to them as we do many people to explain the positives about keeping on top of your hearing health. Together we can help them keep connected with the hearing world.
Call us today on 0161 706 0067