About 1 in 7 people in the UK has hearing difficulties – that’s over 8 million people. There are a number of different reasons why someone might be deaf or lose their hearing. Age, prolonged exposure to loud noise or genetics are all common factors.
The main cause of hearing loss is something we all have to come to terms with – our age. Because hearing loss in adults often takes place gradually, the symptoms of hearing loss are not usually first noticed by the sufferer. It’s quite likely that those around you will notice it first, remarking that the TV is too loud or noticing that you ask them to repeat things. But hearing loss can also happen very abruptly (known as Sudden Deafness) perhaps as a result of a viral infection of the inner ear.
• You frequently have to ask people to repeat what they have said
• You feel left out in conversations
• You complain that others are mumbling
• Friends and family need you to turn down the volume on TV and radio
• You do not hear the doorbell/telephone bell
• You have difficulty working out where sounds are coming from
• You understand more of what is being said if you are looking at the person speaking to you
• Soft sounds seem to have disappeared altogether in speech
• You often hear well in quiet one to one situations but as soon as ambient noise increases or a group is involved, it’s almost impossible to join in.
A hearing aid is an electronic, battery-operated device that amplifies sound. Each hearing aid contains a microphone that converts sound into electrical signals. The amplifier increases the loudness of the signals and the speaker sends the sound to the ear.
It is important to remember that although hearing aids can make the best of the hearing you have remaining, they cannot physically alter your natural hearing mechanism or return your hearing to the way it was when you were younger or could hear well.
An audiologist is a healthcare professional who specialises in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the ear. Hearing Aid Audiologists are trained to identify and manage hearing problems; they are also trained to assist with the rehabilitation of the auditory system – probably the most important part of using hearing instruments successfully in the long term.