Don’t Let Hearing Loss Keep You From Hearing Your Grandkids

boy whispering in granddads ear

(Editor’s Note: One of the most delightful sounds in the world is the little voices of our grandchildren. We grandparents will do whatever it takes to ensure we don’t miss a word.)

By Paul Harrison

Hearing loss comes in many different forms with each person’s particular type being different from the next. Whether it is mild or severe, low frequency or high frequency, there are now a number of solutions to manage any specific needs. In this article we will discuss 5 different types of hearing loss and the different hearing aid technology that is available to manage them.

1)      Low Frequency Loss

This type of loss is rarer and tends to be less severe than a high frequency loss. This is because fewer sound cues are held in the lower frequencies so not as much speech is missed. It is mostly consonants and bass sounds that are affected by this but usually the higher frequency sounds are able to compensate. A low frequency loss is diagnosed when a person is unable to hear below 2000HZ.

What is the solution?

Some types of low frequency loss do not require any treatment but for those that do, most hearing aids can help with this by improving your overall level of audibility. For a more specific solution, some hearing aids have dedicated features that will boost bass sounds which improves speech perception by making lower frequency sound cues more accessible.

2)      High Frequency Loss

This is one of the most common forms of hearing loss and affects many people, especially later in life. The inability to hear these sounds can have a severe effect on your overall hearing. Most of the essential sound cues are held in the higher frequencies, leading to a muffled sound or missing certain sounds completely. Some people with a high frequency loss have also reported that some female or children’s voices are far more difficult to hear.

What is the solution?

Most of today’s digital hearing aids work on something called ‘compression’. This means, instead of just making the sounds you can’t hear louder, it actually moves them. Specifically, it compresses the higher frequency sounds that you can’t hear down into your range of audibility. These hearing aids also contain sound processing ‘channels’. Each of these channels process a different range of frequencies so that the hearing aids can be programmed individually for you. Essentially, this means that the more channels you have, the more precisely the frequencies can be managed. The severity of your hearing loss will determine how many channels would be adequate for you. This would be assessed by your audiologist and they would then recommend a suitable hearing aid for your needs.

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3)      Severe or Profound hearing loss

Hearing loss is diagnosed in different degrees, from mild to profound. This is assessed by looking at the lowest level of sound you can hear.

Mild:               25 – 39dB

Moderate:     40 – 69dB

Severe:           70 – 94dB

Profound:       95+dB

With a severe or profound loss, you are very limited in the sounds you can hear which can often affect overall quality of life. Sometimes people with this type of loss will try a hearing aid and find that it does not really help.

What is the solution?

There are a number of hearing aids that have been introduced specifically for people with this type of loss. These are known as ‘Power’ or ‘Super Power’ hearing aids. These devices will do everything that a standard hearing aid can, but also offers an extra boost of power to further increase the decibel level. In the past, super power aids were always very large and sometimes unattractive, making people reluctant to use them even if they needed them. Today, manufacturers have realised that even people with a profound loss still want a cosmetic option. There are now a number of far more discreet power hearing aids that offer the extra boost you need without having to wear a large bulky device. There are even custom In the Ear hearing aids available with the ability to provide a super powered hearing experience.

4)      Complete Loss in One Ear

For some people, hearing loss is not as simple as just mild, moderate, severe or profound. There are a number of people who have a complete loss in one of their ears. This can lead to problems as you constantly miss sounds on one side, maybe having to use the phrase “speak into my good ear”. This type of loss comes in two different forms. You may have no hearing in one ear and perfect hearing in the other, or no hearing in one ear and some form of loss in the other. Either way, this type of hearing loss can be very difficult and frustrating.

What is the solution?

For this type of loss there is a very specific type of hearing system known as CROS. This stands for Contralateral Routing Of Signal.

If you have no loss at all in your hearing ear then you would use the CROS system. It works by placing a dedicated transmitter in your non-hearing ear which picks up the sound. This will then wirelessly send the sounds you hear to a device in your hearing ear while maintaining a clear and natural sound.

If you also suffer from a loss in your hearing ear then you would need to opt for the BICROS system. This works in exactly the same way as the CROS but the receiving hearing aid also has the capability to manage the hearing loss in this ear.

Both of these systems help you to hear clearly by making sure that you hear the sounds from all directions rather than just one side. These hearing aids are usually paired with a normal hearing aid so you also benefit from the features and technology available.

5)      Hearing loss with Tinnitus

Hearing loss is a problem in itself but when it is coupled with another hearing problem it can make life extremely difficult. Tinnitus is a disorder that causes a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears which, on its own, can be a source of distress. When you have these two together it can be almost debilitating. The constant noise can cause lack of sleep, anxiety and depression, all on top of a hearing loss.

What is the solution?

The exact cause of tinnitus is still unknown so the best way to manage it is to simply treat the problem itself. Some hearing aids today offer a specific feature that will help you to deal with the effects of tinnitus. They have features that produce different harmonic tones that actually draw your attention away from the ‘ringing’ noises. Many hearing aids also offer the option of choosing your own tones so you can decide which work best for you and ease the symptoms the most.

As we said at the beginning, hearing loss presents itself in many different forms but thanks to today’s technology there are a number of solutions available. The best thing to do is consult your audiologist who will take all of your needs and preferences into account when finding the best hearing aid solution for you.

shutterstock_111714491Author Bio:  Paul Harrison has been in the Hearing aid industry for 20 years and in that time has worked at both manufacturer and retailer level before managing his own online hearing aid business www.yourhearing.co.uk which is a national network of local hearing aid audiologists who offer the main hearing aid brands at less than the high street but with the same quality aftercare and warranty.

 

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