Are Hearing Aids Useful for Slight Loss of Hearing?
Many people believe that hearing aids are for people with profound or severe hearing loss, but the evidence suggests that they can help people with all forms of hearing loss, no matter how slight.
What is slight hearing loss?
Audiologists and other hearing health professionals have a strict definition for slight or, more commonly, mild hearing loss. They define mild hearing loss as any loss of hearing between 26-40 dB on an audiogram. So, for instance, if you struggle to listen to sounds between at frequencies in the normal range between 26-40 dB, an audiologist may diagnose hearing loss.
For many people with slight hearing loss, knowing whether you have an issue or not can be a challenge. Certain types of hearing loss can develop slowly over many years. Often, your ability to hear quiet noises changes gradually over time. Over the course of many years, however, it can soon add up.
People with mild hearing loss often have the following symptoms:
- Difficulty hearing letters in speech, and confusing k, th and p sounds with others.
- Needing to frequently turn up the volume on the TV and radio to higher levels.
- Saying pardon or what did you say? more frequently in conversations
- Difficult hearing children or women
- Struggling to hear sounds in the environment which other people claim that they can hear clearly
Are hearing aids useful for slight hearing loss?
Even if you have slight hearing loss, hearing aids can help enormously. The big benefit, of course, is that they help return your hearing acuity to what it was like before your hearing began to deteriorate. You get to enjoy being able to listen with ease to the world around you and can avoid having to strain. Hearing aids can improve your quality of life dramatically.
The other significant benefit is that you may help to protect your hearing from secondary conditions and further deterioration.
Take tinnitus, for instance, a condition that involves constant ringing in the ears. Researchers believe that mild hearing loss is a driving factor that influences the development of the disease. As the ability of the ear to collect sound information and send it to the brain declines, the auditory cortex receives less stimulation. This lack of stimulation can then cause the body’s auditory system hallucinating sounds to make up the deficit. In other words, they start experiencing tinnitus – ringing, whirring, rushing or popping sound in their ears with no external cause.
Hearing aids are essential for another reason; they help to keep the auditory cortex active. Suppose, for instance, that you have mild hearing loss and can no longer hear birds chirping in the distance. All of a sudden, your auditory cortex is receiving less information. Over time, it starts to lose its power to interpret incoming sound information and can lessen your ability to understand the people around your further. By avoiding wearing hearing aids when hearing loss is slight, you can inadvertently worsen the condition.
Improvements in hearing aid technology
In the past, people with mild hearing loss often believed that the benefits of hearing aids were minor. Assistive hearing devices were mainly for those who had more severe forms of the condition.
Technology, however, has changed the situation dramatically. Hearing aids are not only much more capable than they used to be, but they’re also much smaller and more discreet. Often you can wear a hearing aid without anybody knowing that you have one.
People with mild hearing loss have a wide variety of choices over the kinds of hearing aids that they can wear. You can choose feature-packed models which fit behind the ear or completely-in-canal (CIC) versions that are invisible from the outside.
Sadly, most people wait around seven years before seeking treatment for hearing loss. Over time, the brain can forget how to process incoming sound information, making hearing aids less effective than they would otherwise be. Some people can struggle to understand speech and communicate with those around them, having to infer what’s being said through context - something that creates tremendous strain.
The easiest solution is to wear a hearing aid – a small and discreet device that enables you to hear normally for longer.
Do you think that you might have a slight loss of hearing? Would you like to discuss your situation with us? Get in touch with HEARINC today to find out more about our hearing tests and fittings at 234-347-0155.
We look forward to your call.