About one in four people over the age of 50 have some level of hearing loss, increasing to over 70% of people over 70
The exact reasons for deteriorating hearing are unknown, but is probably related to lifetime exposure to noise and other damaging factors slowly wear down the ears’ delicate mechanics. Genes also play a role
Symptoms of hearing loss
Often hearing fades slowly and goes unnoticed for a long time. People becoming deafer often think other people are mumbling rather than blaming their own hearing
At the early stage of hearing loss, high-pitched sounds, such as children’s and female voices, and the sounds “S” and “F” become harder to decipher
Other symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Trouble understanding phone conversations
- Trouble hearing above background noise
- Trouble following a conversation when more than one person speaks at once
- Perception that people are not speaking clearly or mumbling
- Misunderstanding what people say and responding inappropriately
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Frequent complaints by others that the TV is too loud
- Ringing, roaring or hissing sounds in the ears, known as tinnitus
Levels of hearing loss
Doctors classify hearing loss by degrees: mild, moderate, severe or profound. As the stages progress, the person with hearing loss becomes increasingly cut off from the world of speech and sounds. The symptoms of these categories include:
- Mild hearing loss. One-on-one conversations are fine, but it becomes hard to catch every word in the presence of background noise.
- Moderate hearing loss. You often need to ask people to repeat themselves during in-person and telephone conversations.
- Severe hearing loss. Following a conversation is almost impossible without a hearing aid.
- Profound hearing loss. You cannot hear other people speaking, unless they are extremely loud. Without a hearing aid or cochlear implant you cannot understand speech
Living with hearing loss
- Set up your home so your rooms are well lit and the chairs face each other. Seeing the faces of people when they talk allows you to see their mouths move as well as their facial expressions
- Remove avoidable sources of background noise; for instance, turn off the TV when no one’s watching it
- Ask people to look at you when they are talking
- What their lips whilst they talk
- Ask them to speak clearly
- People with permanent hearing loss need to learn how to function with the hearing they still have. Most people with permanent hearing loss can benefit from using a hearing aid — yet only one in five eligible people use them.
On Monday, July 25th, the Hearing Health Center will be at Sunnymere to provide free hearing tests.