Not all hearing loss is created equal.
Millions of Americans have hearing loss, but that loss varies from being an inconvenience to being unable to hear anything.
With October’s designation as National Audiology Awareness Month, it’s an ideal time to schedule a hearing evaluation to get a baseline – recommended at age 50 or earlier if you have hearing loss symptoms. From there, make the screening a part of your annual physical process.
Manatee Ear Center in Bradenton, Florida conducts hearing evaluations in both quiet and noisy listening environments to better understand the patient’s level of hearing loss. We will also gather information on the following:
- An assessment of your lifestyle to determine what types of sounds you’re exposed to on a regular basis.
- A look at your hearing health history, including any symptoms you’ve experienced in the past or conditions such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears) dizziness or ear pain.
- An examination of medications taken, as some drugs are ototoxic (damaging to hearing).
The hearing test portion of the evaluation will check for your ability to hear sounds such as tones and speech. The audiologist will review your results with you, making recommendations on the best treatment for your hearing loss. These recommendations may include the use of an assistive listening device (ALD), hearing aids, or a combination of the two.
Hearing healthcare experts consider a hearing loss of up to 15 decibels (dB) to be normal, the product of the aging process. Manatee Ear Center offers the following information about the four levels of hearing loss:
One step above what is considered normal loss, mild hearing loss starts at 26-40 dB. If you can’t hear something quieter than 35 dB, you are in the mild category. You may have trouble hearing someone whispering, even if they’re beside you. A mild hearing loss can often be treated with an amplification device.
People with moderate hearing loss (41-55 dB) have difficulty hearing a speaker using a normal “inside voice.” The presence of background noise or someone speaking quietly or mumbling will cause you to ask the speaker to talk louder. People in this category may be able to hear certain voices better than others – children or women with high-pitched voices may be harder to understand. Certain letter sounds may be difficult to distinguish from others. Amplification can be highly beneficial.
Those with severe hearing loss (71-90 dB) will find it tough to follow a conversation without the use of hearing aids. Although the devices may help, hearing aids may not effectively allow this individual to hear normal sounds. Most people with severe loss can benefit from amplification devices.
The most significant hearing loss level occurs when you can’t hear anything quieter than 90-120 dB (a chainsaw is about 120 dB). Hearing aids are usually ineffective at this level, so people rely on techniques such as lip-reading, sign language or other visual cues. Cochlear implants can help people with profound loss hear better when the surgery is paired with therapy.
The hearing loss levels do not take into account the existence of other hearing conditions such as tinnitus or speech discrimination ability in the presence of background noise or silence.
New Hearing Aids
The Oticon Siya offers an improved listening experience for people with mild-to-profound hearing loss. Available in two performance levels, 1 and 2, the Siya’s Velox chip processes sound 50 times faster than before. The rechargeable hearing aids connect wirelessly to smartphones, TVs and other devices and feature a two-year repair warranty.
At Manatee Ear Center, the Siya 1 starts at $1,200, including rechargeable batteries.