Hearing impairment is a condition that affects one in six Australians yet only 1 in 5 use a hearing aid – even when it would benefit them. If you’re suffering from mild or moderate hearing loss and don’t have access to a hearing aid, then you’re probably in the search of a strategy to improve your situation.
The truth is, not every strategy works for everyone. Your personal situation will be different from the next – so finding the right way forward is essential.
Here are some effective strategies to help with improving your hearing and comprehension.
Signs of hearing loss
Hearing loss can happen to anyone. And it’s important to know the early warning signs so you can get on top of the issue. Hearing loss can develop into a severe condition that stops you from being able to communicate with friends and family – not to mention watch your favourite shows. Here are some early warning signs to listen out for:
- You find it hard to understand people when they speak softly or whisper.
- You find it hard to hear someone talking to you in a noisy environment like a busy restaurant or in the middle of a crowd.
- You notice inflammation around the ear – or early signs of an ear infection.
- You’re finding it difficult to fully recover from an ear infection or a burst eardrum.
Different types of hearing loss
Hearing loss can come in many different forms and the causes can be diverse and interconnected. Here are the two main types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss is by far the most common. It happens when miniature hair cells within the inner ear and auditory nerve are damaged and cause disruption to the communication between the ears and the brain.
- Conductive hearing loss is usually when the ear is physically blocked by inflammation, and infection, or even a build-up of earwax.
Strategies for different levels of hearing loss
Not all hearing impairments are the same – even two people with the same level of hearing loss can experience it differently. However, depending on the level of hearing loss, different strategies may be able to assist with regaining or improving your hearing quality. Here they are.
1. Improving mild hearing loss
Mild hearing loss is classified as being unable to hear sounds lower than 40 decibels (dB).
If you’re finding you’re having trouble with mild hearing loss – you’re in the best position to remedy the situation. If you’re working a job that is impacting your quality of hearing you may want to put some extra measures in place – like earplugs and earmuffs to muffle the louder more damaging sounds. Mild hearing loss is also easily taken care of with
2. Overcoming moderate hearing loss
Moderate hearing loss is being unable to hear sounds 55 decibels and below. This can result in difficulties hearing conversations happening right in front of you, especially if there’s a lot of background noise – like in a busy restaurant. Moderate hearing loss can be managed with the right assistive technologies, or getting the right help from your ear specialist will be critical in finding the right solution.
3. Combating severe hearing loss
Severe hearing loss is being unable to hear sounds 90 decibels and below. This can have an often extreme impact on a person’s life and ability to communicate and engage in activities. Hearing aids are an important way of understanding everyday conversations and communication in general. The use of visual cues are also more important for navigation and communication in some instances
4. Managing profound hearing loss
If you are experiencing profound hearing loss and are unable to hear sounds of 90+ dB, then you may experience almost complete deafness. That’s unless using assistive technologies such as hearing aids, visual assists, and other communication enhancement technologies. With profound levels of hearing loss, even some hearing aids will fail to work.
Treatments for hearing loss
Depending on your level of impairment – you may want to investigate possible solutions to deal with hearing loss itself – or its consequences. Luckily these days there are many new technologies to assist with hearing loss. Some include:
- Hearing aids can amplify the sounds you’re missing out on.
- Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that can assist with more severe hearing loss.
- Assistive alerts for mobile devices and appliances- vibrations, flashing effects and other innovative methods to alert users of messages or calls can be used to better understand and communicate.
- Assistive listening devices and programs – microphones, personal radio settings, lighting systems and closed captioning all help people experiencing hearing loss to better understand.
- Audio-logic rehabilitation classes and communication enhancement methods are alternatives to help those recovering from hearing loss regain their communication skills.
Managing hearing loss, no matter how severe, can be a challenge. If you’re noticing your hearing is on the decline, make sure you speak to a medical professional and arrange the appropriate tests. Don’t be afraid to get ahead of the problem – hearing loss is easily treatable and there are many supports available, from NDIS plan management to getting the right medical treatment. Find out more from the experts NDIS plan managers Brisbane.