Are Hearing Aids Useful for Slight Loss of Hearing?
When it comes to hearing loss, there are varying extents, types and causes. We measure hearing loss with decibels using a comparison against a person with no hearing problems. Mild or slight hearing loss is a loss of around 20-39dB. If you have mild hearing loss, it may affect one or both ears and can be conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage or obstruction to the middle or outer parts of the ear, which then will prevent the sounds making their way into the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss can be defined as damage to the auditory nerve or to the hair-like cells of the inner ear. The damage weakens the nerve signals or prevents them from being carried to the brain. The nerve signals transfer information on the clarity or the volume of sounds, so a blockage here alters the sound received or the quality.
What are the effects of slight hearing loss?
If your hearing loss is slight, you may not have difficulty in understanding when a person is close to you. When a person is further away, or there is much background noise, it may be more challenging to understand. Often, it may appear as though people are mumbling. You may find that some softer sounds in speech are difficult to distinguish such as 'th' or 's' for example. Those with mild hearing loss often find themselves needing to listen more carefully, conversations may be unclear, and fatigue may occur from the energy input associated with listening.
Hearing aids and slight hearing loss
Some people wonder if using hearing aids are beneficial for cases of slight hearing loss? According to statistics via NIDCD, in the category of adults 70+ years old who could benefit from using hearing aids, just 30% have ever used them. Amongst adults who could benefit from hearing aids aged 20-69, only around 16% have ever used one.
How can those with slight hearing loss benefit?
A hearing aid will work to magnify the sound vibrations. The hair cells that are still functioning will detect these larger vibrations and pass them as neural signals to the brain. People with slight hearing loss can benefit from this amplification and so benefit from the use of a hearing aid. Sometimes those who experience hearing loss wait years until they get a hearing aid. When patients with slight hearing problems wait to use an aid, their hearing problems may worsen during this time.
Using a hearing aid sooner rather than later, will help a patient to improve their hearing and thus their quality of life. This is because a hearing aid will help to clarify sounds, and it will also reduce the fatigue that occurs via having to put in so much energy into listening. Some have argued that untreated hearing loss may contribute to cognitive decline over time and studies continue to research the nature of this.
Those who wear a hearing aid will not just find improved hearing but improved mental health too. Often, when you leave problems with hearing untreated, this can lead to anxiety. You may have trouble listening and distinguishing easily between different sounds and voices. Over time, these issues can become tiresome and affect a person's mood. With the use of a hearing aid, those with a slight hearing problem can allow themselves to relax by amplifying the sounds that they hear and thus improving their wellbeing too. An audiologist can work with those with slight hearing problems to determine the cause, to recommend treatments and to fit hearing aids.
Individuals with slight hearing loss can also use assistive listening devices (ALD). An ALD is a device that is usually standalone as opposed to wearable. ALDS interact with the technologies in your home, such as televisions or phones. The device allows the listener to hear sounds more clearly and can also help to improve the quality of speech.
Talk to our professionals
Living with hearing problems can be an inconvenience and yet so many people continue to put up with their problems without seeking a solution. In the last few years, the technology and knowledge of hearing health has advanced drastically. Due to this, those with hearing problems can reap the rewards! If you would like to learn more about hearing aids and audiology, you can call Baker Audiology & Hearing Aids at 605-306-5756. Our team of dedicated audiologists are on hand to deal with your needs.