We take our ears for granted. Only when there’s a problem do we appreciate how precious they are. According to statistics, there are more than 9 million people in the UK with hearing loss. That’s a staggering 19% of the population or 1 in every 7 people. The most obvious section of the population with hearing problems is the elderly, as hearing loss increases with age. Hearing loss itself, can be divided into several categories, ranging from mild to profound. The type of treatment available depends on the type of hearing loss and its cause.
The Different Levels of Hearing Loss
Mild hearing loss – the quietest sounds you’ll be able to hear will be between 25 and 40 dB. One-to-one conversations will be fine as long as they are not held in a noisy environment. A ticking clock or a dripping tap won’t be audible. A hearing aid is the best way to rectify it as it amplifies low sounds.
Moderate hearing loss – you won’t be able to hear sounds less than 40-70dB. This means you may struggle to understand normal speech, a doorbell or telephone ringing. Hearing aids can sometimes help, or middle ear implants.
Severe hearing loss – without a hearing aid, a person with severe hearing loss will find it very difficult following a conversation. A hearing aid can help but is not always efficient enough to improve a person’s hearing. Middle ear or cochlear implants are more effective.
Profound hearing loss – sounds softer than 90-120dB are inaudible. Loud sounds such as an airplane engine or a fire alarm are often not heard. Hearing aids are not an effective solution and sufferers tend to rely on lip-reading or sign language. A cochlear implant is often the best long-term solution.
The Symptoms of Severe Hearing Loss
It is possible for the symptoms of severe hearing loss to appear suddenly or over time. Conversations may become fuzzy and sounds will be muffled and can gradually fade. Alongside the loss of hearing you may also experience:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus
- Pain in one of both ears
- Pressure of fullness in one or both ears
For a person suffering with severe hearing loss life can become very difficult. Often they will withdraw from their normal social life because they are embarrassed and afraid.
Different Types of Hearing Loss
There are three main types of hearing loss:
Conductive – caused by a problem in the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. The problem prevents sound from carrying to the inner ear. It is often the result of an ear infection, a tumour, trauma or an object that has become stuck, such as wax build up.
Sensorineural – occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear become damaged. Another cause is damage to the hearing nerve or the brain. This type is common among the elderly.
Mixed – this is a combination of the two mentioned above. It can happen because of a genital disorder, after a long-term infection or head injury.
Hearing loss is a common problem and can affect all ages. The important thing is to get it checked out by a professional such as Hear4U. Only then can a treatment be provided, and the problem resolved.