Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Whether you’re just started to notice changes in your hearing, or you’ve been dealing with hearing loss for a while, it’s helpful to know how to describe your condition to your medical professional. These questions will help you describe your hearing loss for an accurate diagnosis.

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How severe is your hearing loss?

This straightforward question is commonly asked by audiologists, but (for obvious reasons) can be quite difficult to answer. How are you supposed to know how severe your hearing loss is? You can only hear what you can hear! Audiologists will frequently use descriptors on a spectrum from mild to profound, with a large grey area in between. In general, if you’ve experienced mild hearing loss a conversation will be easily heard if there is not much other noise in the room and you are sat quite near to the person you are talking to. However, if there is music or other noise going on in the background, you may not hear so easily. Severe or profound hearing loss means you’re unlikely to catch what anyone is saying regardless of background noise.

What types of sounds are audible to you?

The most common form of hearing loss is known as high frequency hearing loss. The fancy name for the condition is presbyacusis. Elderly people often suffer from this. The effect for the sufferer is to make speech sound muffled and difficult to comprehend. While you may hear the words being said, you may not necessarily understand the meaning of the statement. Low-frequency hearing loss is the other side of the coin. It’s also possible to experience a loss of all frequencies in roughly equal proportions. You may find that you are especially sensitive to loud noise. Each different arrangement of frequencies that you can or cannot hear will affect your ability to understand speech and follow conversations. An audiologist may use words like sensory, conductive, or mixed, to evaluate your hearing ability and gesture towards which area of your ear has sustained damage. 

What’s that ringing sound I can hear?

Ironically, one of the most common symptoms of hearing loss is a ringing sound in the ear that does not come from an environmental source. The sound is internal. What is even stranger is that you are the only person who can hear it. A doctor may be able to diagnose the condition (tinnitus) but it will be purely based on your report, as they will not be able to hear anything themselves. Tinnitus can be debilitating at first, but once you learn skills to help you navigate your anxiety, the condition can be easily managed. Seek out professional help from your GP or an Audiology clinic in your local area. Mindfulness meditation practices have also been shown to be effective for tinnitus relief, as they help relieve anxiety.

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Unlike visible disabilities that cause reduced mobility, hearing loss is an invisible disability that is often left undiagnosed. This can make it difficult for you or your loved one to adjust to the limitations. Why the delay in diagnosis? Because if you are suffering from hearing loss, the chances are that you’re the last to know. If you would like to better understand your hearing loss, or the hearing loss being experienced by your loved one, these questions will help you get to grips with this difficult issue.


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