It’s estimated that around one-in-seven will have some kind of hearing loss during their lifetime. So what is hearing loss and how can it be corrected? The sensitivity of our hearing is indicated by the quietest sound that we can detect, called the hearing threshold. Your threshold can be accurately measured by a hearing aid audiologist, who will note on a graph the quietest sounds, at different frequencies, that you can hear. Normal hearing thresholds are not the same for all frequencies. If different frequencies of sound are played at the same volume (amplitude), some will be perceived as loud, and others quiet or even completely inaudible. Generally, if the volume or amplitude is increased, a sound is more likely to be heard.
Although accident, disease or exposure to toxic substances or excessive noise can all cause hearing loss, by far the most common factor is the passage of time. As with our eyesight, our hearing becomes less effective as we grow older and the older we are the greater the likelihood of us not being able to hear properly. This so called “age induced” hearing loss cannot be reversed and untreated can lead to other problems including ill health.
Research has shown that people with untreated hearing loss begin to opt out of conversations because they cannot hear what is being said. Relationships and work can become difficult and eventually the person with hearing loss can become socially isolated and depressed. Fortunately, whilst the lost hearing can never be restored, modern hearing instruments can dramatically improve quality of life, not just for the wearer but for their families too. The only sure way to find out if your hearing is not up to scratch is to have a hearing test and if there is any doubt at all, see a hearing aid audiologist who is a BSHAA member.