How we measure hearing loss

Hearing loss is measured in decibels (dB) by one of our expert Audiologists when your loved one attends their hearing test appointment. Hearing loss is measured as loudness versus pitch of sounds and the results of their hearing test are then plotted on an Audiogram.

Our state of the art audiological testing technology allows our Audiologists to accommodate a range of different hearing tests to help identify the type of hearing loss your loved one may have. We will talk to them in detail about the hearing test  and what they need to do as well as discussing the outcome of their hearing test so that they can feel confident in the health of their ears and their hearing ability so that they can regain the joy of hearing.

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The best way to find out if you have hearing loss is to make an appointment at one of our stores. Our specialists will assess your hearing capabilities with a free test and advise you on the potential next steps.

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To understand the type of hearing loss they may be experiencing, hearing is measured using earphones (which measure air conduction). By placing a small vibrator on their head (which largely bypasses the eardrum and middle ear and measures the sound waves that pass directly to the cochlea in the inner ear) this measures the overall efficiency of their hearing.

With the earphones, they can expect to hear tones of different frequencies, testing one ear at a time. The intensity of each tone is varied to find the lowest level that they can hear sounds, which is then used as the threshold for that tone. It is unusual for their hearing threshold to be the same or similar for different frequencies - typically there is a greater hearing loss for high frequency tones. Equally, hearing loss can be different in each ear.

The hearing loss thresholds are further categorized into:

  • Mild hearing loss (26 – 40 dB HL)
    Patients will find it difficult to hear soft sounds and undertones in noisy backgrounds
  • Moderate hearing loss (41 – 55 dB HL)
    Difficult to follow speech with background noises
  • Severe hearing loss (71 – 90 dB HL)
    Extremely difficult to follow conversations
  • Profound hearing loss (above 90 dB HL)
    Hearing gets impossible without hearing aids.
N.B. One should not confuse a 100 dB threshold with a 100% hearing loss.

Our expert Audiologists take the time to listen and understand where their hearing challenges are now and their expectations for the future. Life is for listening and we’ll ensure that your loved one feels happy and confident in interacting with the world around them.

After their hearing test, the Hearing Aid Audiologist will plot the results on a graph and use the measurements to advise them of their degree of hearing loss.


What is Hearing loss?

Hearing loss is the partial or total inability to hear. It’s a common problem that can affect anyone. Also referred to as hearing impairment or deafness, hearing loss covers a wide range of categories and symptoms which can be caused by a variety of factors and circumstances.

Hearing problems can be temporary or permanent and can occur gradually or suddenly depending on the cause. One or both ears can be affected, or one ear may be affected more than the other.


Conductive or Sensorineural hearing loss

There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot reach the inner ear. Causes can include a build-up of earwax, something blocking the outer ear, outer and middle ear infections, excess fluid in the middle ear, perforated eardrums, and abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.
  • Sensorineural loss is when damage is caused to the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear or to the auditory nerve that transmits nerve impulses to the brain. Causes might be ageing and exposure to loud noises, as well as hereditary hearing issues and problems arising from physical trauma, certain medicines and viral infections of the inner ear.

If your symptoms affect only one ear, it is defined as unilateral hearing, whereas loss in both ears is called bilateral hearing loss.


Hearing loss: causes, signs, treatments

Common hearing loss signs include:

  • Asking your friends or loved ones to repeat themselves
  • Having the television up too loud
  • Having to concentrate when trying to hear people in conversation
  • Misunderstanding people
  • Difficulty in noisy environments


Recognising when a loved one has hearing loss

Recognising that someone close to you, a friend or family member is experiencing challenges with their hearing is not always easy as hearing loss tends to happen gradually over time and your loved may not know that they have some symptoms of hearing loss. It can present questions such as, what can I do to help my loved one? Where can I get more information? Who can I go to for help?

Understanding the types of environments your loved one experiences difficulties in can help identify the type of hearing loss they may have. You may find that you’re loved is aware that their hearing is not as good as it used to be but is unsure what to do or they may refuse to accept changes in their hearing.

Changes in your loved one’s hearing can affect their emotional state of mind. They may feel stressed and frustrated by not being able to hear everything around them or conversations with those closest to them. Feeling embarrassed or nervous as you may misunderstand parts of the conversation or not fully understanding a conversation. Social adventures can become more challenging for your loved ones and they may not attend as many events and gatherings due to this.

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