Most people are beginning to understand the importance of preventative screenings for dental issues, eye issues, and hearing issues. Hearing issues, for one, can be indicative of larger problems, whether you are a small child unable to hear due to fluid buildup, or an adult having trouble hearing due to dementia linked issues (and everything in-between). While some people are finding that they are passing the typical hearing tests with flying colors, at the same time, they are noticing that there is still an issue with the ability to hear in certain situations. This is becoming more prevalent, especially for people who are otherwise healthy twenty to forty-year-old individuals. This phenomenon is being dubbed as the “hidden hearing loss.”
The Science of Hidden Hearing Loss
Testing, like all scientific experiments, usually has certain controls and variables that can affect the outcome. An audiogram is a standard tonal hearing test, and is often delivered in an otherwise quiet environment. This way, the person sitting for the test can focus on the particular sounds of the test. Typically, these individuals have not experienced damage to the hairs or nerve endings within the ears to the extent that they would not be able to hear these sounds in this setting. The problem becomes amplified (no pun intended) when background noise is added. The person who can hear perfectly well in a quiet environment cannot decipher sounds related to a conversation or other sounds when placed in a noisy, real-life environment. The cause is currently thought to be due to some nerve endings used for hearing being damaged; however, not all are damaged, thereby making situational hearing much more difficult.
There are new tests being developed for this exact type of diagnosis. Such tests, measure binaural hearing, which includes the ability to decipher between tones and types of sounds. This test has been shown to detect hidden hearing loss in some patients. In addition, there are certain treatments that are now helpful for people with hidden hearing loss. These types of treatments can help the patient learn how to listen differently to pick out context clues and words when in situations in which hearing is much more difficult. This is known as auditory process therapy, wherein the patient partakes in a series of lessons that help him or her understand the context of the conversation better.
Another solution for hidden hearing loss is the use of hearables. These devices are designed to help tune out background noise to better hear the important conversations and information around you. They are over the counter and typically quite affordable. There will be more on the market as time goes forward with more people having difficulty hearing in background noise. Finally, hearing aids are available for hidden hearing loss; however, they are a last resort when the loss is too great for any other types of treatment to help.
No matter the type of hearing loss you may have, it is extremely beneficial to have your hearing tested on a regular basis. This helps catch issues early on, before they become debilitating. If you are looking for an audiologist you can trust, contact the experts at Chears Audiology at 612-979-0561. Make your appointment today to determine how well you can actually hear, and help move towards any necessary hearing solutions as they arise.