You’re not alone if you find that your hearing isn’t what it used to be. More and more people are now getting the help that they need whether they’ve had hearing loss or deafness since birth, through age or through trauma.
Below are some of the different types of hearing loss and deafness, and what action you should be taking if you notice the signs of hearing loss. From visiting your audiologist to having hearing aids or a cochlear implant to help, we’re going to look at the journey you may take.
Signs of hearing loss
Although hearing loss can occur from birth it is most common for it happens gradually, so you may not notice it at first. There are common signs of hearing loss and if you are experiencing any of the following it may be time to see an audiologist:
- Needing to turn the tv up to hear it more than others
- Finding it hard to follow a conversation in busy places
- Struggling to hear people on the phone
- Asking people to repeat what they’ve said
- Do you think that others mumble?
The best way to find out if you have hearing loss is through a hearing test if you are experiencing one or more of the above then speak to an audiologist.
Signs of hearing loss in babies and children
You should always seek help from an audiologist if you think that a baby, toddler or child is experiencing hearing loss. Some signs to look out for include:
- They don’t startle at loud noises
- They don’t say single words at one year old
- They don’t turn to noise when under four months
- Don’t respond to their name, but notice you when they see you
- Appears to not hear all sounds
- Not clear when speaking
- Don’t reply when you call them
- Often talk very loudly
- They are often turning up volume controls
- Watch other people actions to instructions because they haven’t heard
Diagnosing hearing loss and deafness
Many people who are experiencing hearing loss will question how hearing loss is diagnosed. If you find that you or a child is showing any of the signs above the first step is to have a simple hearing test with an audiologist. You may need to visit your doctor first to get a referral, then an audiologist can conduct further tests to diagnose and put a treatment plan in place. Newborn babies are now often tested in the first few weeks following birth. The test is designed to identify babies who have permanent hearing loss so that they can have the support they need as soon as possible.
What causes hearing loss and deafness?
Hearing loss and deafness is because of sound signals not reaching the brain correctly due to a problem in the hearing system. There are three main types of hearing loss, depending on where the problem is occurring.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by either damage to the hair cells inside the inner ear or damage to the hearing nerve, in some cases, it can be both. This type of hearing loss changes your ability to hear quieter sounds and it reduces the clarity of the sound that you hear. It is a permanent type of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is where sounds cannot pass from your outer ear to your inner ear, this is often because of blockages like earwax or growths. Sounds will become quieter and sometimes sound muffled and conversations will sound mumbled. This type of hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.
Mixed hearing loss is exactly what it sounds like; a mix of both conductive and sensorineural. It can be a mix of a permanent loss with an added element of temporary such as already having sensorineural hearing loss and then starting to experience blockages from earwax.
Hearing aids and other treatments
If you have hearing loss you can sometimes struggle to communicate, you may find that you need some help from an audiologist in order to find a treatment. Hearing aids and other forms of treatment can help to improve your hearing loss to some degree.
You will work closely with an audiologist who will be able to diagnose and treat your hearing loss with hearing aids, surgical intervention and cochlear implants. They will be able to help you decide which treatment is going to be most suited to your level of hearing loss. They will also help you to manage your hearing loss, your treatment and advise you of additional help such as learning sign language or lip-reading.