24Jan2017

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What degree of hearing loss do you have?

Posted on Jan 24, 2017

About one in every six Australians has some degree of hearing loss, a figure that is expected to increase to one in four over the next few decades. While age is certainly a factor in the development of hearing problems, young people are also at risk.

While age is certainly a factor in the development of hearing problems, young people are also at risk.

Hearing loss can affect young and old

Speaking recently, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt outlined why the young should be taking precautions. 

"Teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones," he said.

"Exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, is an increasing problem."

Minister Wyatt's views are supported by the World Health Organisation, which has data showing that nearly 50 per cent of those aged between 12 and 35 in middle and high income countries are regularly exposed to hazardous sound levels emitted from personal audio devices. Furthermore, four out of 10 are experiencing potentially harmful levels of sound at entertainment venues.

Young people can be exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at noisy events such concerts.Young people can be exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at noisy events such concerts.

In Australia, specialised hearing services are available throughout the country for children and adults with hearing difficulties. These are also extended to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, where hearing loss is a particular problem and which can affect a person's likelihood of gaining employment.

"We know that having a job is a fundamental determinant in people's health and wellbeing, so it is vital that we do all we can to protect people's hearing," Minister Wyatt said.

In addition to the specialised hearing services offered to the general population, the Australian Government also invests a Hearing Loss Prevention Program and the National Acoustic Laboratories which conduct research to identify the causes of preventable hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be a progressive condition, with varying levels of severity.

Categories of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be a progressive condition, with varying levels of severity. If you think your hearing might be impaired, it is recommended that you see a specialist for a check-up.

There are four main classifications given to degrees of hearing loss which can be summarised as follows:

Mild – People with mild hearing loss can make out sounds in the range of 25 to 40 dB. People who have mild hearing loss may therefore have problems keeping up conversations with others, especially if they are in a noisy environment. 

Moderate – The quietest sounds heard by people with moderate hearing loss, in their better ear, vary from 40 to 70 dB. Those experiencing moderate hearing loss may have trouble keeping up with conversations if they are not wearing a hearing aid.

Severe – The most quiet sounds audible to those with severe hearing loss are between 70 and 95 dB. People suffering from severe hearing loss will usually benefit from powerful hearing aids. However, they may still need to lip-read and some also rely on sign language despite the use of such aids.

Profound – People with profound hearing loss will generally only hear sounds louder than 95 dB and largely rely on lip-reading and/or sign language.

People with moderate to profound hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing aids.People with moderate to profound hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing aids.

Avoiding treatment for your hearing loss?

If your hearing loss falls into the moderate, severe or profound category but you have been putting off getting a hearing aid, then you are not alone – only one in four people who could benefit from such a device actually use one, according to the Hearing Care Industry Association.1

However, whatever your reason for delaying such treatment, it is not a good mindset – the Scripps Research Institute has found that hearing loss can worsen if left untreated.2 This suggests it is important to catch your hearing loss as early as possible.

Are you ready to take the first step in treating your hearing loss? You can click here or call 1300 308 125 to request a FREE* hearing check appointment with your local HEARINGLife clinic.

1HCIA, The facts about hearing health in Australia. Accessed January, 2017.

2Scripps, Deafness and hearing loss research. Accessed January, 2017.

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