Mild Hearing Loss Is Not Insignificant
Hearing problems are more common than you might think, and mild hearing loss is the most widespread form of it. But don’t let the word “mild” fool you; it can still have a big impact on your life.
How Common Is Mild Hearing Loss?
The World Health Organisation estimates that one out of three adults over 65 years old has a mild hearing problem and it’s recognised that a person’s hearing will naturally decline as they get older.
If you have mild hearing loss, this means that you can’t hear sounds that are quieter than around 25 decibels.
Hearing loss affects everyone differently, because of the way in which an individual’s brain processes sound.
So, what are the mild hearing loss symptoms to look out for in daily life?
Usually, the first thing that you will notice is that you are unable to hear high frequency sounds – such as whispered voices or bird song.
With mild hearing loss, you may find it difficult to follow a conversation when the person has a soft voice or they are turned away from you.
Some speech sounds will be heard more easily than others – for example, vowel sounds could be heard more easily than the beginning and ends of words and speech can often sound unclear.
Hearing sounds over a distance could become harder because, the further a voice has to travel, the quieter it will be when heard. This can make listening to a conversation between rooms or a speaker in a large room more difficult.
In a group conversation, people often speak quickly and at different moments. If you have mild hearing loss, you may miss small elements of the conversation and be unable to pick up on visual clues, depending on the setting.
When there is background noise, such as in a restaurant or cafe, the brain has to work harder to filter out any unwanted sounds.
Low-frequency sound travels more efficiently than high-frequency sounds, so you may often hear a constant low hum of sound but be unable to clearly hear the person you’re speaking to.
This situation can be more tricky when hearing in one ear is better than the other, as it will be difficult to localise sound.
You may notice that you are no longer able to hear television or radio shows very well and increase the volume to compensate. This can cause problems in the home if family and friends find your programmes are just too loud!
In fact, it may be that another person or family member notices that you have mild hearing loss first. This usually occurs because:
- You have the television volume slightly louder than normal
- You ask for someone to repeat themselves more often
- You mishear conversations and respond inappropriately
- You become more quiet in social situations
Hearing loss also affects more than just one person; it can also impact on the people that they communicate with the most – usually a partner or your family.
The communication problems associated with mild hearing loss can cause frustration, impatience and tension between those living in the same household.
The Effects of Mild Hearing Loss
First, mild hearing loss can affect your emotional well-being. It’s important to know that even though it’s called “mild,” it can nearly triple the risk of falling and even double the risk of dementia compared to people with normal hearing.
Also, it can make it harder to connect with others, enjoy social activities, and reduce your overall quality of life. Some people find it tough to understand conversations and get tired from listening.
The Truth About Hearing Aids for Mild Hearing Loss
Some people think that hearing aids aren’t helpful for mild hearing loss, but that’s not true. They can make a big difference. So, what can you do to get help?
How is mild hearing loss treated?
How can you or your loved ones get help? Unless your hearing loss is caused by an ear infection or similar health condition, it is unlikely that your hearing ability will return to normal.
An audiologist will be able to assess the level of your hearing loss and recommend a suitable intervention to improve your quality of life and well-being.
Hearing aids can usually provide the amplification needed to combat a mild hearing loss – there are a wide range of types, styles and technology levels available to suit each individual’s unique needs.
The more sound that has to be “given back” with hearing aids, the longer it will take to get used to the new levels of amplification.
Mild hearing loss should never be ignored as the longer any hearing loss is left untreated, the longer it could take to get used to hearing aids.
Don’t Suffer In Silence – Book A Hearing Test
If you are currently living with mild hearing loss, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Even if you are feeling that you can get by for now, hearing loss will inevitably impact your quality of life at home, at work and socially.
Remember that your hearing loss is unlikely to improve, so it is best to address any issues as soon as possible. Studies have shown that even a mild hearing loss has the potential to increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, when compared to those with ‘normal’ hearing.
Modern digital hearing aids are highly successful in helping mild hearing loss. Hearing aid technology has advanced very quickly over the past few years with new featured allowing for a discreet and tailor-made fitting.
If you think you have hearing problems, talk to your audiologist. Even if your hearing loss is mild, hearing aids can make your everyday communication easier and reduce listening fatigue. They can also help keep your brain active and healthy. It’s essential to take action early because hearing problems can get worse over time.
Hearing care professionals understand the impact of mild hearing loss, and they’re here to help. They’ll explain how hearing aids work and can even offer you a trial to see if they make a difference.
With a positive attitude towards hearing aids, you’ll find they can be just as helpful in improving your quality of life as they are for people with more severe hearing loss.
It’s important to keep an eye on your hearing with regular hearing check-ups as these can help you stay on top of any changes.
Mild hearing loss might not sound like a big deal, but it can have a significant impact on your life.
Taking steps to improve your hearing can lead to a better quality of life and help you stay connected with the people and activities you love.
Catch hearing loss early with regular hearing tests.