Over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – suffer from a Disabling Hearing Loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people – or 1 in every 10 people – will suffer from a Disabling Hearing Loss.
1. Types of Hearing Loss
A hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. It can affect one ear or both ears, and leads to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds. ‘Hard of hearing’ refers to people with hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. People who are hard of hearing usually communicate through spoken language and can benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices as well as captioning. People with more significant hearing losses may benefit from cochlear implants.
‘Deaf’ people mostly have profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing.
2. Causes of hearing loss
A hearing loss can be caused by many factors, but age and noise are the two most common causes.
- Loss of hearing is a natural consequence of getting older. Our hearing ability worsens in our 40s and onwards and when we reach our 80s, more than half of us suffer from significant hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is also called Presbyacusis.
- Another common reason of hearing loss is exposure to noise. It can also be a consequence of living in a noisy world. This noise can come from our work or from voluntary exposure to noise, such as noisy motors or loud music at rock concerts, night clubs, discos and from stereos – with or without the use of headphones. The increasing use of portable MP3 players is increasing the effects of hearing loss.
3. Comparing Loudness of Common Sounds
What kind of decibel levels are you exposed to during a typical day? To give you an idea, compare noises around you to these specific sounds and their corresponding decibel levels:
Sound levels of common noises
BASED ON THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DEAFNESS AND OTHER COMMUNICATION DISORDERS, 2010, AND THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH, 2013
Heavy city traffic, power lawn mower
|80 to 90|
Snowmobile, hand drill
Chain saw, rock concert
(pain threshold) Jet engine at takeoff
12-guage shotgun blast
4. Other Causes of Hearing Loss include:
- Some diseases and infections
- Certain syndromes
- Medications and drugs
- Damages to the ears
- Injuries to the head
- Malformation of the ear or blockage of the ear
- Genetic factors
- Tumours in the head
- Alcohol and tobacco
5. Symptoms of hearing loss
Most cases of hearing loss develop gradually so the symptoms are often difficult to recognise. The first step in the treatment of hearing impairment is to realise that there is a problem. And it often takes time for a person to accept that he/she suffers from hearing loss.
When should you contact an Audiologist, such as Tami Mehl Audiology, to have your hearing tested?
- It sounds as if people are mumbling to you
- Difficulties in hearing television – or people say that your television is turned up too loud
- Difficulties in hearing someone calling to you from behind or from another room
- Difficulties in communicating in a small group of people, for example at meetings
- Communication difficulties in noisy environments, for example in a car, bus or at a party
- A frequent need to ask people to repeat themselves
- You no longer hear your watch ticking, water running or birds singing
- Difficulties in hearing the doorbell or the telephone ringing
- Family, colleagues and friends say that you might be suffering from hearing loss
- You have to lip read the people who talk to you
- You feel that you must really concentrate to hear someone talk or whisper
If you experience these signs of hearing loss, you may feel that your social life is suffering too because of hearing and communication difficulties. You may even be tempted to avoid social gatherings and other social situations where you run the risk of misunderstanding or not hearing what other people say
6. Treatment of Hearing Loss
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the hearing loss
- Removing wax blockage. Earwax blockage is a reversible cause of hearing loss. Your doctor may remove earwax by loosening it with oil and then flushing, scooping or suctioning out the softened wax.
- Surgical procedures. Surgery may be necessary if you’ve had a traumatic ear injury or repeated infections that require the insertion of small tubes that help the ears drain.
- Hearing aids. If your hearing loss is due to damage to your inner ear, a hearing aid can help by making sounds stronger and easier for you to hear. An audiologist can discuss with you the potential benefits of using a hearing aid, recommend a device and fit you with it.
- Cochlear implants. If you have severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be an option for you. Unlike a hearing aid that amplifies sound and directs it into your ear canal, a cochlear implant compensates for damaged or nonworking parts of your inner ear. If you’re considering a cochlear implant, your Audiologist, along with a Specialist in disorders of the ears, nose and throat (ENT), can discuss the risks and benefits with you.
7. Benefits of treatment
Getting treatment can improve your quality of life dramatically. People who use hearing aids report these benefits:
- Greater self-confidence
- Closer relationships with loved ones
- Improved outlook on life, overall
- Less depression
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Hearing Loss, then you should book an appointment at Tami Mehl Audiology. Tami has more than 25 years of clinical experience, combined with an honour’s degree in Speech Therapy and Audiology from the University of the Witwatersrand, a Master’s degree in Communication Pathology and Audiology from the University of Pretoria and a Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Florida in the USA.
Tami Mehl Audiology offers you the best in patient-centered care plus the convenience of two practices; one in Illovo and the other in Bedfordview. Both practices offer friendly staff members, a warm and collaborative atmosphere and, most importantly, a thorough service from Professional Audiologists and support team members.
The Audiologists at both practices are:
- Fully qualified with current clinical certificates;
- Registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa;
- Committed to regular Continuing Education programmes;
- Up to date with rapidly changing technology;
- Known for uncompromising clinical and ethical standards.
To book an appointment you can contact either the BEDFORDVIEW PRACTICE on 011 622 6314 – which is situated at Suite 10 Bedford Gardens Medical Suites, 3 Bradford Road, Bedford Gardens, Germiston or the ILLOVO PRACTICE on 011 268 0490 – which is situated at Block 1, Oxford Manor, 196 Oxford Rd, Illovo.
Tami Mehl Audiology is about Optimal Hearing
I was seen by Tami Mehl at my ripe old age of 85. It is an absolute pleasure to have dealt with someone who is so respectful and caring of us old folks. With her patience and understanding, she walked me through the hearing tests and sorted out the best hearing aids for my lifestyle. I would certainly recommend Tami to all of my friends. I cannot express my gratitude in how the hearing aids have enhanced my lifestyle.