What’s hearing loss?

A hearing loss is more than the inability to hear loudly enough. People with a hearing loss experience problems in hearing and localising a sound source. They may also have a discrimination loss – that is, difficulty discriminating words from each other, even if they are fairly loud. They can hear the words, but fail to understand the spoken message.

How the normal ear works

Hearing loss can affect people of all ages and can occur anywhere in the auditory system. If it occurs in the outer or the middle ear, it is a ‘conductive’ hearing loss. If it occurs in the inner ear or in the nerve fibres, it is a ‘sensorineural’ hearing loss.

Causes of hearing loss

The most common type of hearing loss is the natural deterioration of hearing with age. However, in our continuously developing digital era, frequent exposure to loud noises and music can be detrimental to hearing, regardless of age. In addition, hearing loss can occur:

  • as a result of infection during gestation;
  • through infection;
  • after a head injury;
  • if the eardrum is perforated;
  • as a result of untreated diabetes;
  • as a result of untreated hypertension;
  • as a result of some cancer treatments; or
  • as a result of taking certain medications.

Other disturbances in the auditory system can include tinnitus or hyperacusis.

Take this quick hearing quiz:


Do you…

Find that people mumble when they talk? Yes No
Have difficulty hearing on the telephone? Yes No
Have to turn up the volume of the television to hear what’s being said? Yes No
Sometimes miss what’s being said to you? Yes No
Often have to ask people to repeat themselves? Yes No
Misunderstand when people talk and sometimes respond incorrectly? Yes No
Ask others to repeat what they’ve just said? Yes No
Have a buzzing / zinging / roaring sound in your ear/s? Yes No
Have difficulty hearing in crowds/restaurants? Yes No
Have difficulty hearing speech when there is background noise? Yes No
Often have to strain to hear conversations? Yes No
Have dizziness/vertigo? Yes No

If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to three or more questions, please contact us today. We can help.

Untreated hearing loss

Let’s say that you suspect you may have a hearing loss, but you put off having it diagnosed. This could have serious social, emotional, physiological and psychological effects on you:

  1. Feelings of irritability, negativity or anger
  2. Fatigue, tension, stress or depression
  3. Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  4. Damaged interpersonal relationships
  5. Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  6. Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  7. Reduced job performance
  8. Diminished psychological and overall health

The most serious effect is auditory deprivation – a serious condition that occurs when the auditory nerve and other areas of the brain responsible for processing and interpreting sound are deprived of sound and begins to atrophy or weakens further.

In addition, new studies have shown a significant link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. Even individuals with mild hearing losses are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those with normal hearing.

Therefore, the key to hearing better for longer is keeping the hearing mechanism active. One way to do this is to use hearing aids – even if the hearing loss is minimal.

Feel free to watch this Youtube video on what a hearing loss sounds like. Or contact us.

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