Are Hearing Aids Useful for Slight Loss of Hearing?
While hearing aids are extremely helpful for people with moderate to severe hearing loss, what about those whose loss of hearing is only slight? Could they still benefit from hearing devices?
Audiologists define those with mild hearing loss as people who struggle to hear sounds in the 26-40 dB range at a variety of frequencies.
It’s not just their ability to hear pure tones that matters either; it’s also whether they can understand what people are saying when speaking quietly. Often people with mild hearing loss can tell that sounds are coming out of a person’s mouth, but they may struggle to interpret the words. Some letters and sounds like “f”, “th” and “p” can all be confused for something else, making comprehension difficult.
It’s important to note that hearing loss lies on a spectrum. Some people have very mild hearing loss that they might not necessarily notice, but affects the way that they interact with the world. Others have profound hearing loss where strong amplification is needed for them to hear the sound of the world around them.
Hearing aids for people with mild hearing loss
Hearing aids are beneficial for people with mild hearing loss. Hearing aids help you hear quieter sounds and make sense of the words coming out of people’s mouths. In general, hearing aids make all of the syllables in speech easier to hear and boost clarity. People with mild hearing loss who wear hearing aids often find that they no longer struggle in conversations. Understanding what people are saying to them becomes more natural.
One of the advantages of having mild hearing loss is that you have much greater choice over the style of hearing aid that you choose. People with severe hearing loss often have limited selections because of their need for greater amplification. But for people with mild hearing loss, the requirements are far different. Those with slight hearing loss can often select from a multitude of styles, including:
- In the ear (ITE)
- Behind the ear (BTE)
- In the canal (ITC)
- Completely in canal (CIC)
- Invisible in canal (IIC)
Each hearing aid style has its own set of benefit, which is why your audiologist will help you find the best solution for your needs. Smaller devices offer more privacy, but can be difficult to handle if you have dexterity issues. While larger devices may be more visible, they can house more advanced features and are easier to handle when cleaning the unit or changing the batteries.
Don’t wait before you start using hearing aids
It’s a general rule of thumb in medicine that the earlier you can begin treating a condition, the better it is for the patient. The same holds for hearing health. The earlier you can deal with hearing loss, the better.
The reason for this has to do with the way the ear and brain process sounds. The brain, it turns out, requires continual stimulation to keep the auditory region active. If this part of the brain doesn’t receive incoming sounds, it can, in a sense, “forget” how to hear. The entire brain region atrophies like a muscle you don’t use, worsening hearing loss and causing the progression of the condition.
Hearing aids help patients avoid this fate. A hearing aid amplifies incoming sounds, ensuring that the region of the brain responsible for dealing with sounds always has something to process. The more stimulation it gets, the better.
The problem is that many people with hearing loss don’t go to their audiologist immediately. The average time that people wait is seven years - plenty long enough for their condition to deteriorate dramatically.
Getting help is important. Diagnosing hearing loss early not only helps to improve your quality of life in the here and now, but prevents the condition from getting worse over time.
If your hearing loss progresses, your audiologist is there by your side to offer more powerful hearing aids. With their help, you can manage your condition.
Patients who do not address their hearing loss can go on to have serious problems. Hearing loss, for instance, makes it more challenging to interact with family and friends, leading to isolation. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of depression, which can serious affect your quality of life.
If you’d like to find out whether you have mild hearing loss or want to book a hearing test, then get in touch with Listen Hear Diagnostics. Call us at 347-450-9872 today.