About Hearing Loss

About Hearing Loss

I can hear fine! I just can’t understand …. You’re mumbling!

­Imagine sitting around the family dinner table. Your grandchildren are laughing to the side at strange sounds coming from their phones. In the background there is a microwave humming, chairs scraping, dishes clattering and the annoying jingle of a TV commercial. Your children are talking across the table – laughing, speaking over each other & looking to you for comment. You are straining to follow what is happening– and the effort of doing this is starting to make you feel more and more tired, and more and more isolated.

Eventually, you start pretending you can hear. You nod, look interested and laugh along even though you didn’t get the jokes. You begin to feel left out. When the loves of your life leave, you have a throbbing headache, disappointment and worry about how you’ll cope next time.

Hearing loss differs from vision loss

Vision problems tend to make reading harder as the letters get smaller, but hearing loss is different.

As hearing deteriorates, certain sounds and syllables become hard to hear while other sounds still come through loud and clear. Most of the time it is the high pitch consonants of speech (the sounds that make words clear and meaningful) that disappear. Unfortunately, this means the important parts of speech (like f, s, t, ch) are drowned out by louder low-pitched vowels (like a, o and u) and annoying background noise (like traffic and people mumbling around you).

This is why people with hearing loss often say – ‘I can hear fine, I just can’t understand what you’re saying!’

What causes hearing loss?

The most common causes of hearing loss are age or overexposure to loud noise. Although it can appear at any age, hearing loss most often begins to affect people in the early to mid-60s. But it can also be caused by infections, injury, exposure to loud noise or birth defects.

Age-related hearing loss

As we have more and more birthdays, we lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds. Birds song, the click of a light switch and the beep of a microwave are easy to live without but trying to keep up with conversations as you lose some of the key parts of speech is more difficult and has more significant consequences.

Age-related hearing loss is caused by wear and tear of the tiny hairs within the hearing system. They spend your life bending in response to sound but eventually begin to go limp. The most common symptoms are trouble hearing soft voices and trouble hearing speech in background noise. Often, family members will notice age-related hearing loss before the person with the loss is really bothered by it.

Noise-induced hearing loss

Regular, prolonged overexposure to excessive noise will cause premature damage to the tiny hair cells and accelerate both hearing loss and ringing in the ears. It commonly affects construction workers, factory workers, farmers, dentists, military personnel and police officers. Loud concerts and headphone use can also damage people’s hearing. That’s why it’s important to always wear ear protectors if you are exposed to excessive noise.

Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be caused by problems in the outer and middle ear, by damage to the hair cells or fibres of the inner ear or by a combination of both.

Outer and middle ear hearing loss (Conductive)

Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer and/or middle ear, which prevent sounds getting through to the inner ear. This can occur due to a blockage of the ear canal (eg. wax build up) or damage to the mechanical structures of the middle ear (e.g. perforated eardrums, fluid in the middle ear, or damaged to the middle ear bones).

Inner ear hearing loss (Sensorineural)

This type of hearing loss happens when the delicate nerve fibres in the inner ear get damaged, preventing them from being stimulated by sound pressure and then transmitting sound to the brain where it is processed. It is most commonly caused by natural ageing but can also be the result of excessive noise. This condition is permanent in most cases.

Effect of Hearing Loss

The direct consequences of his hearing loss result in a loss of hearing clarity that causes

  • Difficulty communicating one to one in even mild background noise,
  • Difficulty understanding speakers on the phone,
  • Inability to participate and enjoy conversations in small groups,
  • Reduced awareness of environmental sounds such as cars, doorbells and phones & an,
  • Inability to understand speakers that are facing away or are at a distance.
  • Inability to understand speakers that are facing away or are at a distance.
  • Confusion and mix-ups due to misunderstanding.

Consequences of Hearing Loss

The significantly negative impact of hearing loss is often underestimated. It progresses so slowly that many people accept the deceptively slow onset of symptoms as their ‘new normal’.

The effects of hearing loss gradually diminish quality of life by forcing you to withdraw from socialising with friends and family, avoid conversations which are too difficult and cause fatigue from the increased mental energy required to participate, understand and remember. Left untreated, this can lead to frustration, anxiety, isolation, depression, and cognitive decline. Family relationships suffer, friendships are neglected, workplace performance is threatened, and cognitive functioning declines.

Luckily, all it takes is a little awareness, motivation, and proactive action to avoid the unnecessary impact that a loss of hearing can have upon your life.

We can help you overcome the limitations of hearing loss. Optimize your mental performance, enhance your relationships, feel motivated and confident , and live your life in abundance – no restrictions.