Hearing Loss

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss

You may have a hearing loss if you or your loved ones have noticed some of these common signs:

  • Needing to ask people to repeat themselves
  • People appear to be mumbling
  • Straining to hear softer speech
  • Tinnitus/ringing or noises in the ear
  • Television/radio volume often needs to be increased beyond partner's or family's comfort level
  • Difficulty hearing conversations on the telephone
  • Hearing conversations in background noise is more difficult than it used to be
  • Female voices are more difficult to understand
  • Difficulty hearing environmental sounds such as birds
  • Difficulty hearing distant voices

Research indicates that approximately one in six people have a hearing impairment.  Most hearing losses occur gradually so the symptoms often go unrecognised.  The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age; up to three out of four adults above 50 years of age experience hearing loss. 

While hearing loss is not reversible, in the majority of cases it can be managed and often compensated for with appropriately fitted hearing aids

Effects of hearing loss

People with hearing loss often experience:

  • Isolation/becoming withdrawn
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Problems with speech and language development
  • Problems learning at school
  • Problems getting/keeping a job
  • Slurred or loud speech

When hearing begins to deteriorate the brain tends to forget how things sound.  Often people with a hearing loss are unaware that they are missing the softer sounds of everyday life.  It is common for loved ones to push hearing impaired people to have their first hearing test.

Causes of hearing loss

The most common causes of hearing loss are:

  • Natural processes of ageing
  • Middle and inner ear infections - viral or bacterial
  • Noise exposure - may include brief or long term exposure to loud sounds
  • Congenital - some family related hearing conditions may not become evident until adulthood
  • Trauma and head injury - such as a severe blow to the head
  • Medications - certain medications are toxic to the auditory system and cause permanent damage to the inner ear

Types & treatment of hearing loss

A hearing loss is defined as either conductive or sensorineural depending on which part of the ear is affected.  A conductive problem is a problem in the outer or the middle ear that interferes with the transmission of sound to the inner ear.  A sensorineural problem is a problem in the cochlear in the inner ear or with the auditory nerve.

Surgery may restore hearing loss due to some conductive problems.  Surgery is of no benefit for sensorineural problems unless the person is suitable for cochlear implantation. 

Hearing aids can help both problems; however, surgical options for a conductive hearing loss should always be explored first.  Our Audiologists will always offer a referral if a conductive hearing loss is found on your diagnostic audiogram rather than suggesting hearing aids.

Our Audiologists can assess your hearing needs and design a personal hearing rehabilitation program to improve your communication with others.