Hearing loss can be divided into degrees of severeness from mild to profound. If you or someone you know is experiencing mild hearing loss, then your hearing may be good enough for most situations but can be problematic in certain situations. People with minor hearing loss will usually compensate for it by faking their way through many social interactions, pretending to hear and understand what was said.
Although, that does not mean that a minor hearing loss is not entirely harmless. Minor hearing loss can still have an immense impact on your quality of life and capability to communicate. Furthermore, the effects behind a minor hearing loss can be far more insidious than people are aware of.
The term minor hearing loss is shrouded by the monomer used to classify the degree of hearing impairment. The term “minor” implies little to no handicap or impairment, causing it to become a low priority for rehabilitation on the part of the person. The consequences for ignoring the symptoms could lead to the condition worsening. The truth is that most people with minor hearing loss usually experience issues with registering speech, especially when they are in a noisy environment.
What is minor hearing loss?
Minor hearing loss is generally defined as being unable to hear sounds that are quieter than 40 decibels. For example, a rustle of leaves is around 20 decibels, a whisper is about 30 decibels, a quiet home is 40 decibels, quiet street noise is 50 decibels, a normal conversation is 60 decibels, and the inside of a car is 70 decibels. While not being able to hear below 40 decibels may not seem like a problem, that is far from the truth.
Anyone experiencing minor hearing loss may not have a problem following a conversation while in a quiet room if it’s one on one. However, if they are in a noisier environment, group settings, or speaking on the phone, it can lead to trouble in communicating with others. That means the person may have issues with hearing low-pitched or high-pitched frequencies in that sound range, though a good majority of people usually end up incapable of hearing high-frequency pitches first.
What are the effects of minor hearing loss?
If someone is experiencing minor hearing loss, it may not be too much of an issue communicating with someone near you. However, if the person is too far, or if there is too much background noise, it could become difficult to follow along with what they are saying. Typically, it could appear as if the person is mumbling and not speaking at an ordinary voice volume.
A person may find that some softer sounds in speech are challenging to distinguish, such as ‘s’ or ‘th’, for instance. People with minor hearing loss frequently find themselves concentrating more carefully because conversations are unclear and fatigue can take place from the energy exerted with listening carefully.
Furthermore, recent studies have discovered that minor degrees of untreated hearing loss can increase the chances of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive decline compared to people who have normal hearing. Hearing loss can also cause a person to become more socially isolated and depressed.
What are some signs of hearing loss?
Most people are unwilling to admit when they are experiencing hearing loss when they first notice it. However, there are signs of hearing loss that others may notice in interacting with individuals with minor hearing loss. If you were to apply those signs to yourself, you may start to realize that your hearing is not what it was before.
For adults, there could be several signs that indicate they are having issues with their hearing and may require a check-up. If someone is having difficulty hearing in crowds or parties, that is a good indication that they have a hearing problem. While watching TV, a person may start to prefer having their T.V. louder than people they are watching it with, leading to other viewers complaining that the T.V. is too loud.
Hearing muffled noises and speeches is another indicator of hearing loss. A person may find themselves asking others to repeat things more than they used to. During a conversation on the phone, the person may not be able to hear what is being said clearly. They might even rationalize it as the phone quality not being good enough on either the other person’s end or their own. Sometimes they might not even hear the phone or doorbell ring as well.
As we mentioned earlier, high-pitched sounds usually become increasingly difficult to hear when someone is experiencing minor hearing loss. If someone was previously used to hearing birds singing in the morning, there is a good chance they will not hear them anymore due to minor hearing loss.
Another issue to be aware of is the possibility of missing consonants and sibilants. The person may even find themselves relying on others to fill in any bits of information they missed out on due to issues with hearing. If a person is incapable of hearing the ticking of their clock or watch they were previously able to, that is another sign of hearing loss. Casting blame on the inability to hear because of too much environmental noise is also a sign.
People with minor hearing loss may also find it much easier to hear a man’s voice than that of a child or woman. Plus, they may find themselves exhausted from having to concentrate throughout a conversation. That could lead to them not socializing as much as they used to because they avoid places where they expect too much noise in the background since it can be tiring and difficult to follow along with the conversation. Music may not be enjoyable as before, and they may also be experiencing some ringing in the years. Lastly, they may find themselves relying on lip-reading or attempting to read a person’s lip to follow a conversation.
In the case of children, they may not respond to directionsor the presence of their parents and other adult figures. A question may need repeating several times, and parents may find themselves having to speak louder to gain their attention. If they start to look in the wrong direction when responding to a sound or look around the room in an attempt to locate where a sound came from, that could be an indicator for hearing loss issues as well. A child may also need to turn up the volume of the TV very high or sit closer to hear better.
Sometimes they may even answer incorrectly or not entirely. They potentially may not notice certain pitches or sounds from toys. Children may also become restless and not sleep well or cry more than usual, which could be signs of an ear infection.
Hearing aids and minor hearing loss
If you are one of the many people out there experiencing minor hearing loss, you could be wondering if using hearing aids is beneficial for you. According to statistics provided by The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, adults 70+ years older with hearing loss could benefit from hearing loss. However, fewer than 30% of them have decided to use them. Adults aged 20 to 69 with hearing loss could also benefit from wearing hearing aids, although only 16% of them have decided to wear them.
The amount of strain a person places on themselves to follow a conversation happening around them can be tiring and demoralizing. That is especially true if the person particularly enjoys socializing both casually and professionally. It’s one of the many reasons why having a hearing aid can be essential for a person with minor hearing loss.
Fortunately, individuals with minor hearing loss may also be candidates for hearing aids. Hearing aid technology has advanced far enough to be customizable to almost any degree of hearing loss.
A person who decides to wear a hearing aid when they are experiencing minor hearing loss can decrease their listening fatigue. Furthermore, they will have a far easier time remaining social and maintaining their hearing in the future. Without relying on hearing aids, a person’s hearing could deteriorate even further as the brain slowly forgets how to receive and transmit sounds appropriately, and speech comprehension gradually deteriorates.
How do hearing aids work?
Every hearing aid on the market uses similar fundamental parts to transfer sounds from the environment into your ears and amplify them. The majority of hearing aids are digital and powered with either a hearing aid battery or a rechargeable battery. Miniaturized microphones are used to collect sounds from the environment.
The hearing aid has a microchip with an amplifier that transforms any incoming sound into digitized code. It proceeds to analyze and adjust the sound based on the individual’s hearing loss, listening requirements, and the level of the sounds occurring around them. These amplified signals shall then be converted back into sound waves and transmitted into the wearer’s ears through receivers (speakers).
Hearing aids will vary when it comes to the size, price, and special features, along with the way they are fitted to your ear. Hearing aid technology has advanced far enough for these devices to be smaller, sleeker, and seamless to wear than ever before. A person who is experiencing minor hearing loss has a variety of choices for hearing aids accessible to them than a person whose hearing has declined significantly.
If someone has a case of minor hearing loss, they could decide on a smaller, near-invisible hearing aid because the device does not require putting out too much sound, reducing the amount of power needed. This also means a smaller battery which translates into a smaller hearing aid. That also means the wearer may need to change the battery at a less frequent rate compared to someone who has critical hearing loss.
How can it benefit people with minor hearing loss?
The hearing aid will magnify the sound vibrations, which allows the remaining functional hair cells to detect these vibrations and pass them as neural signals to the brain. A person with minor hearing loss can benefit from the amplification of a hearing aid. Unfortunately, the people who could greatly benefit from the use of a hearing aid decide to tough it out for years before deciding on getting a hearing aid. If someone takes too long to deal with their minor hearing issue, their hearing problem will worsen as time passes on.
People who decide to use a hearing aid soon rather than later will be able to improve their hearing and quality of life. The reason for this is because hearing aids are capable of clarifying sounds, and it also diminishes the fatigue a person experiences when putting in extra energy for listening to conversations.
Anyone who decides to take the initiative and wear a hearing aid will find not only their hearing improving, but may potentially improve their mental health as well. If a person decides to leave their minor hearing loss untreated, they could experience anxiety and depression. They may also find themselves having trouble with listening and telling the difference between various voices and sounds around them. As time passes, the problem could become tiresome and impact a person’s mood and wellbeing.
Relying on a hearing aid makes the minor hearing issues simpler to manage. The individual will be able to relax by increasing the sounds they hear and improve their overall health. Scheduling an appointment with an audiologist can help those with minor hearing loss by determining the cause, recommending treatments, and fitting in a hearing aid.
Should you get a hearing aid?
That depends on your current circumstances. If you are noticing issues with your hearing, then consider making an appointment with your doctor to take a hearing test and rule out the causes of your hearing loss. In some cases, hearing issues could merely be due to build-up in ear wax or infection. Depending on the answer you receive from your medical professional, you may or may not need one, but it’s best to consult with them about your options.
Hearing loss continues to become a growing concern every year. The amount of people who experience some form of hearing loss continues to increase, and people are usually reluctant to address the issue. If you are experiencing minor hearing loss, then there is a good chance that you can treat it early and maintain it longer. Acquiring a hearing aid will improve your quality of life and can help maintain your current hearing ability so that it does not gradually deteriorate even further.