Hearing Loss

Photo of family with young child. Mother kisses small boy on the cheek

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common condition which affects around 1 in 6 of the UK population (roughly 10 million people).

The ageing process can lead to a reduced ability to hear clearly over time. Exposure to high noise levels for example loud music, noisy hobbies, or noise in the workplace can also damage our hearing (noise induced hearing loss).

There are three main different types of hearing loss:- 

  • Sensorineural hearing loss – this is where the hair cells in the inner ear/cochlea become permanently damaged and cannot transmit the sound signals to the brain (age related hearing loss & noise exposure).
  • Conductive hearing loss – this is when the sound cannot pass freely through to the ear drum and the bony structures of the middle ear (ear wax, ear infections, perforated ear drum etc.)
  • Mixed hearing loss – this is when there is a conductive hearing loss combined with a sensorineural loss, leading to possible problems with the outer, middle and inner ear.

Sudden hearing loss – Any sudden loss of hearing should be investigated urgently by your GP or other primary care setting.

Did you know?

  • That it may take 6-8 years before we may notice we have a hearing problem?
  • That it may take 3-4 years before we then take action?
  • We often recognise the signs of hearing loss before we realise there is a problem:
    • Muffling of speech and other sounds
    • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
    • Trouble hearing consonants
    • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
    • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
    • Withdrawal from conversations
    • Avoidance of some social settings
  • Listening with hearing impairment is hard work. It can be extremely tiring when we try to concentrate and listen to others. This uses up lots of brain power and can make us feel tired following social gatherings or meetings.
  • Research shows that those with hearing impairment will have lower levels of mental energy than those with normal hearing. Do you feel mentally tired late afternoon?
  • Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, loss of confidence and low mood. It can also affect our relationships and ability to communicate with those around us.

Patients with Menieres disease, Labyrinthitis, Hyperacusis, and Tinnitus often have hearing-related issues; many have an underlying hearing loss.

Improving our hearing ability keeps our brain active and research strongly suggests it may delay the onset of symptoms associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, whilst also reducing the risk of falling and depression.

 

Myths vs Facts

There are many misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids. Here we try to separate some of the myths from the facts:

 

Myth: If I was deaf I would know about it.

Fact: Often hearing impairments develop slowly and we adapt to try and compensate. A simple hearing test will determine if there is a loss or not.

 

Myth: I can hear OK – other people just mumble.

Fact: Often you miss the start and end of words when you have even a mild impairment – this can lead to a lack of clarity in speech.

 

Myth: Hearing aids will make my hearing worse, my ears will get lazy.

Fact: Quite the opposite! Using hearing aids stimulates the brain to remember how to deal with a wider array of sounds than without hearing aids, and it is the brain that hears not just the ears.  

 

Myth: Hearing aids are big and ugly.

Fact: Many hearing aids are tiny and discreet, and they are packed with technology designed to make life easier for you. Take a look at our hearing aid styles page for more information and pictures. https://www.ashhearing.co.uk/hearing/hearing-aids/styles/ 

 

Myth: Wearing a hearing aid will make me look old.

Fact: Although hearing loss is more common amongst older adults, many younger people struggle too. Not hearing, or constantly saying ‘pardon’ will make you appear older, more so than wearing a hearing aid. 

 

You would wear glasses to help you see better, so why not wear something that helps you hear better if you need it?