What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss is simply a partial or complete loss of hearing. Losses are generally categorised from mild to profound, and can have varying degrees of effect on everyday life.

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss has many causes. Issues with the outer, middle and inner ear can cause hearing loss, as well as medication, infection or exposure to loud noise. Aging is also a common cause of hearing loss.

What types of hearing loss are there?

Hearing loss falls into three categories:

Sensorineural hearing loss refers to hearing loss caused by issues in the inner ear, brain or the nerve connecting the two (the vestibulocochlear nerve).

Most sensorineural losses are due to the hair cells within the inner ear being damaged or deformed. This is the most common type of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are issues with conduction of sound waves in the outer or middle ear. These can often be as simple as fluid or earwax buildup, or as complex as a tumour or birth defect.

It can sometimes be treated with medical intervention, depending on the case, but hearing aids can also be of help.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive losses. This means the ear has both damage or obstruction in the outer/middle ear and changes within the inner ear.

How do I recognise if I may have a hearing loss?

Hearing loss symptoms can vary, but they include:

– Turning up the volume on your phone and TV over time
– Finding that sounds feel unclear or too quiet
– Having trouble with conversation – you may miss someone speaking entirely, need to ask for    sentences repeated or be able to tell someone is speaking, but miss the words themselves
– Avoiding any situation in which you may have trouble hearing (e.g. going to a bar, party or social event)

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you should consider seeing a Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professional and having your hearing tested.

Simply click here to visit our Hearing Aid page to see if a Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professional is close to you. If there is not, then please get in touch with us, as we might already be in discussions with one.

Effects hearing loss can have on people

Grief – A hearing loss diagnosis for yourself or someone close to you can be a shock to the system. You may find you experience stages of grief as you deal with your diagnosis: denial, anger and depression are all common.

It is perfectly okay to feel this way. Seeing a counsellor, particularly one with experience in hearing loss, can be a way to work through your feelings in a healthy way and help you move forward.

Energy levels (concentration fatigue) – Concentration fatigue is a very common issue with the deaf and hard of hearing. As hearing decreases, more effort is required to make sense of the sound you do hear. This can result in extreme tiredness.

It can help to power nap at work or to take breaks and go for a quick walk to give your brain a rest. You may also find you need more sleep than you used to, or you sleep earlier – this is your brain’s way of recharging.

Rehabilitation of hearing loss

Hearing loss rehabilitation helps the individual manage their hearing and diagnosis and make the best of it. It includes learning about your hearing loss and how to cope in stressful situations, as well as fitting hearing aids and trialling assistive technology to help with everyday life.

Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ears, is a condition where the sufferer hears noises that aren’t there, usually beeping, ringing or humming. The noise is not imaginary: it is a physical condition usually caused by a fault in the hearing system. It is estimated 18% of the population experience tinnitus at some point in their lives with varying degrees of severity.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused by many things: almost any issue with the ears can create it. It is commonly associated with exposure to loud noises and hearing loss. However, there are many smaller causes: earwax buildup, stress and some medications are just a few.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

If you feel you have tinnitus and that it is affecting your life, the best thing to do is to see your GP and discuss the issue to obtain a diagnosis. They may refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist for further tests to try and figure out what the issue is, or Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professional if hearing loss is suspected.

How can I manage my tinnitus?

If your tinnitus is impacting your daily life, it is worth investigating management methods. The first thing to do is to see a doctor and check that no underlying issues or medication are the cause. If there is no obvious cause, there are white noise machines and masking devices available through Hear for Less® to mask the sound (click here to view our solutions).

Hearing aids can also help, especially if the sufferer also has hearing loss. As above this would be best diagnosed by an ENT specialist or a Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professional.

I don’t have tinnitus but I want to prevent it. What can I do? 

Tinnitus is often linked to excessive noise levels and hearing loss, so the best prevention method is by protecting your hearing. This means wearing noise protection in loud situations (e.g. concerts, car racing, operating machinery), as well as keeping the volume low on personal music players, phones and TVs.

Hear for Less offers a wide variety of hearing protection from babies through to adults. (click here to view our suite of solutions)

“So what can I do about my hearing problem?”

What are hearing aids and how do they work?

Hearing aids are tiny amplification devices worn in the ear or behind the ear. They amplify sound input to make sound easier to hear for the user. They run on batteries and are generally discreet.

Different styles of hearing aid are suitable for different hearing losses, so it is best to be tested and have a recommendation from a Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professional before looking to purchase a hearing aid.

How do I choose which hearing aid is best for me?

The short answer is that you don’t have to. With so many brands, models and technology it can become daunting for anyone. Thankfully our Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professionals are on hand to guide you through this process step by step. Only they can advise you on the medical devices that will match your individual hearing needs, lifestyle and budget.

Can I use one hearing aid or should I use two?

You can use one hearing aid, but if your hearing loss is bilateral (in both ears) two aids will give the best sound. Having both ears aided makes it easier for the user to perceive sound, especially in crowded situations or from a distance.

As an added bonus, being binaurally fitted means the user has less reliance on one ear, meaning the volume can be turned down. This means sound is less distorted and easier to understand.

I’ve heard that hearing aids are really expensive, is this true?

Until Hear for Less® launched in Australia, this was true. One in 6 people suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Sadly, less than a quarter of people in Australia who would benefit from a hearing aid actually get them. One of the main reasons is cost.

On average, people spend around $5000 on a pair of hearing aids. The very same hearing aids can be provided by Hear for Less® and fitted by one of our Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professionals for around $3000 including 12 months after-care.

You can also apply for a payment plan to have hearing aids from as little as $25.00 per week. (click here to find out more)

I’m worried about what people will think of me if I wear hearing aids.

Some people are concerned about the cosmetics. Hearing aids these days can be highly cosmetic. As technology evolves hearing aids are becoming more and more miniature and in some cases today’s hearing aids allow users to hear beyond the capabilities of the normal hearing of a human being.

Talking about your hearing loss with others will help them to understand your situation. It can also prompt them to ask themselves the question “is this something I need to get checked out too?” Generally speaking, those who openly live with loss of hearing can find life more enjoyable, without barriers and are more social.

What kind of hearing aid technology exists?

Technology has moved on in leaps and bounds over the last 10 years with features like noise reduction, GPS tagging (the hearing aid even knows when you’re in your favourite restaurant and changes it’s settings accordingly) and data logging (the aid knows and can record each environment you’re in so a Hear for Less® endorsed hearing care professional can fine tune your hearing aids accordingly)

All of this possible depending on the type of hearing you technology your decide on and will need to be programmed by a Hear for Less® hearing care professional.

What about a cochlear implant/bionic ear?

A cochlear implant is a surgical option for hearing loss management. For severe to profound hearing losses, it involves an electrode coil being inserted into the inner ear to stimulate the cochlea and simulate the natural function of an ear.

A hearing care professional must assess the patient for cochlear implant suitability as it is not recommended for all hearing losses.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is a term used for a range of devices, also referred to as assisted listening devices, that help people with disabilities to accomplish tasks or to manage their disability’s effects.

For people who are hard of hearing, this includes not only hearing aids but TV listeners, alarm/alert systems, amplified phones and much more. (click here to visit our range of assisted listening devices)

I have hearing loss. What can Hear For Less do for me?

Hear for Less® offers Australia’s largest range of solutions to hearing issues. We stock assistive technology devices as well as accessories. Recently we have expanded and now stock a range of hearing aids and batteries to suit all losses and budgets.

The Hear for Less® website is intuitive and easy to navigate to find the information and solutions you require. If you have any questions then please either call us directly on 1800 HearforLess (1800 432 736) or email us at [email protected]

written by Alana Doyle