Hearing Loss Myths: Mild Losses

Here at Advanced Hearing Care, we often find that there is a lot of misinformation about hearing loss and hearing health care.  We’d like to take an opportunity to address some of these misconceptions over the course of a few blog posts in our Hearing Loss Myths series.  To start things off, we’re tackling the hard issue of mild hearing losses.  Here are a few of the most commonly believed myths about mild hearing loss.

Myth: A mild hearing loss is not bad enough for a hearing aid.

Fact: Actually, many people with mild losses are finding that their hearing loss is indeed “bad enough” to require amplification.  Mild hearing loss is an average of  25-40 decibels of loss. Patients who are experiencing this degree of loss often miss sounds like the tick of a watch, bird calls, water dripping in the kitchen sink, leaves rustling, and will usually have difficulty hearing the voices of some women and most small children.  Even a mild degree of loss can make it very difficult for these patients to understand speech in a noisy restaurant or in a conference room.  Everyone has a different perception of whether missing these sounds is “bad enough” for them to seek help.  By working with an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist, you can determine if you need amplification for your specific case and how much it will help you with your individual needs.

Myth: Living with a mild hearing loss is not a big deal.

Mild Hearing Loss Example
Even a mild hearing loss can create the perception of Sound Voids and can be damaging if left untreated.

Fact: Even a mild hearing loss will cause the perception of Sound Voids™ that can interfere in conversations with family and friends, decrease enjoyment of social situations, increase stress in the workplace, and cause frustration during important conversations.  The increased stress from straining to fill these Sound Voids™ without assistance can lead to the typical symptoms associated with high stress: fatigue, headache, tense muscles, sleeping difficulties, and even increased blood pressure.  Because our hearing is our most important social sense, even a mild loss can lead to detrimental consequences.  This can indeed be a “big deal,” especially for someone with a very active and vibrant lifestyle.

Myth: I’ve waited this long and still have a mild hearing loss.  I can wait a few years more before I need hearing aids.

Fact: Are you familiar with the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it?” When hearing loss is left untreated, the perception of Sound Voids™ tends to progress.  The longer a person waits to treat their hearing loss, the more likely they are to experience phonemic regression, or a loss in the ability to understand speech.  This phenomenon occurs when the ability to understand speech is compromised to a greater  degree than the associated age-related pure tone hearing loss.  It’s not just that the sounds of words become more faint.  The damage to the nerve cells in the inner ear causes a permanent distortion to all sounds.  When there is a loss in speech discrimination, even amplification may not compensate for this distortion.  By delaying treatment for hearing loss, a person may find that the rate of phonemic regression has increased, making words seem more distorted and unclear.  For this kind of distortion, making speech louder with hearing aids does not make it more clear and understandable even when they are eventually purchased.

When it comes to mild hearing losses, the only way to truly know if hearing devices are needed is to have a comprehensive audiological evaluation. At Advanced Hearing Care, we employ a Four-Step Process with each patient in which we take the time to assess, diagnose, and counsel each patient according to his or her individual needs.  If you think you have any degree of hearing loss, it’s always a wise idea to see an audiologist to determine the nature and severity of the loss.

Don’t wait until old age to hear what you’re missing!  Don’t let phonemic regression ruin your chances for successful treatment of your hearing loss.  Don’t lose your most important social sense!  Call today and reintroduce yourself to a world of sound!