Understanding and Managing Low-Frequency Hearing Loss

Hearing loss might not be a fatal health ailment but affects around one in six individuals in Australia.

From daily communication to mental health, professional life and personal relationships, hearing impairment of any degree can take a toll on your life. No matter the extent and type, hiding or ignoring your hearing disability will only make life difficult for you and people around you. So, it is important to identify the type of hearing loss you’re suffering from and find a suitable treatment for your condition.

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Hearing loss is classified into different types based on the severity, time of occurrence and frequency. In this article, we will be discussing low-frequency hearing loss which is often related to conductive hearing loss occurring with some degree of inner or outer ear problem.

What is low-frequency hearing loss?

Low frequency hearing loss, also known as reverse slope audiogram, is the hearing impairment that occurs when inner ear hair cells get damaged. The role of hair cells in the inner ear is to detect and pass it through the auditory nerve to the brain.

An individual suffering from this type of hearing loss will not able to hear sounds with frequencies 2000 HZ or below. However, a person with low frequency hearing loss may still hear high-frequency sounds and thus is able to still communicate better as compared to people with high-degree hearing loss.

What causes low-frequency hearing loss?

A mutation in the Wolfram Syndrome Gene (WFS1) is the most common cause of low-frequency hearing loss. Some other causes of low frequency hearing loss include:

  • Mondini Dysplasia, a malformation in the inner ear.
  • Meniere’s Disease, a disorder of the inner ear causing a feeling of congestion in the ear.
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Renal failure
  • Viral infections
  • Rapid changed in pressure

Why is low-frequency hearing loss difficult to diagnose?

A person with low-frequency hearing loss may not detect the problem easily unless the person undergoes regular hearing tests. This is because the condition manifests no significant symptoms.

The major reason behind being symptom-free is that the low frequency sounds are intense and do not carry as much information as sounds in higher frequencies. So, a person with hearing in moderate and high frequencies can make up for what they are unable to hear in low frequencies, thus concealing their hearing loss.

In addition, a person with low frequency hearing loss usually exhibits no signs of missing speech sounds or abnormal speech production patterns as they develop speech and language just like people with normal hearing.

However, low frequency hearing loss may be manifested in a noisy environment or when the person is conversing in a group. If you already have a family history of hearing loss, we recommend you visit your audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation instead of just relying on free hearing tests. The earlier you seek professional assistance and care for your hearing condition, the lesser the impact of hearing loss on your life.

How can low-frequency hearing loss be treated?

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Once you are diagnosed with low-frequency hearing loss and have assessed the severity of your condition, your audiologist will discuss with you the best course of treatment for your problem.

Treatment may not be necessary in minor cases. However, in severe degree of low frequency hearing loss, your audiologist may suggest hearing aids with noise reduction and sound amplification features that can improve your hearing in noisy background and amplify low frequency sounds that are difficult for you to hear. Moreover, you can get all the information regarding your hearing device like how you can adjust settings, how to take care of your hearing aid batteries and the device etc. from your audiologist.

Though a low frequency hearing loss may not cause as much problem as complete hearing loss, if you suspect you are suffering from this condition, you must get your hearing evaluated immediately. Early detection of hearing loss of any kind can help you seek necessary care and treatment while improving your quality of life.

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HEARING CARE TIPS: PROTECTING YOUR EARS IN A NOISY WORKPLACE

Hearing loss is a part of growing older for most people and can’t be prevented. However, the other form of hearing loss which is caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, can be avoided with a little consideration and care.

Of all the physical health ailments faced by factory workers, hearing issues remain the most common. In fact, an estimated 1 billion workers in Australia are exposed to hazardous levels of noise at work.

Though people working in manufacturing factories or construction sites may get used to the loud and invasive noise over time, continuous exposure to the dangerous levels of noises while working in such environments can impair the quality of your hearing or lead to hearing loss.

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That said, stated below are some hearing protection tips for people exposed to a noisy work environment.

Carry your hearing protection to work daily

If loud noises are a regular occurrence at your workplace, equip yourself with specialised industrial earplugs or ear muffs to protect your hearing.

If you already have a hearing loss or are at risk of it, it is advisable to consult with a hearing professional to find a high quality, effective hearing protection solution that fits your work environment and your specific needs.

When it comes to hearing protection, there is a diverse range of assistive hearing devices out there including in-the-canal (ITC), in-the-ear, behind-the-ear and invisible hearing aids. Your hearing specialist will help you find the right solution based on the degree and type of your hearing loss and your workplace setting.

Get your hearing tested regularly

Factory and industry workers are always advised to visit their hearing specialist for regular hearing checks to assess their hearing.

Even if you don’t incur any potent signs indicating that your hearing is impaired, you want to consider having your hearing tested by a professional once in a while.

The earlier hearing issues are detected, the easier it is to control damage and prevent the condition from getting worse.

Be careful with listening to music

Many workers avoid ear plugs and put on iPods or other music devices to drown out loud noises in the background. This hearing protection practice can actually backfire.

Instead of listening to your favourite tunes through headphones or earphones at high volume to cover up the background noise, use noise-cancelling earphones, which reduce the overall strain on your hearing due to loud noise.

Do not insert anything inside your canal

Many factory workers stick cotton swabs or stick-like object into their ears to avoid loud noise without knowing that it can damage their hearing instead of protecting it.

Sometimes, such objects can go too far into the canal and puncture your ear drum or may create a build-up of ear wax and debris by pushing them further inside your canal. So, avoid putting anything in your canal and use only a protection suggested by your hearing professional.

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Remember that damage from noise-induced hearing impairment can’t be reversed. Adhere to the above-mentioned guidelines to protect your hearing in a noisy workplace and communicate and engage fully in your life.

Don’t Fake that You Can Hear; Accept Your Hearing Loss

Coping with a little hearing impairment seems a lot easier than something significant like vision impairment. That said, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many people with impaired hearing choose to hide their condition.

But let’s get it clear. Though people may manage to get by a partial inability to hear without being open about their problem, hearing loss doesn’t necessarily have to be severe or profound to affect one’s life.

If overlooked or left untreated, even a mild hearing loss can impact on your day-to-day life, professional career, relationships and most importantly mental health.

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Hiding is not worth it

Asking someone to repeat themselves once or twice while talking over the phone might not seem like a big deal. Neither might be missing out on a few words in a family conversation.

But you can’t overlook significant consequences like low self-esteem, depression and affected job performance and relationships, which hearing loss contribute to over time.

Ask yourself, “Is hiding your hearing condition worth missing your favourite music and sounds or isolating yourself from people and social world?” “Is putting off getting your hearing treated worth the negative impact it leaves on the quality of life?”

NO.

Most people who stress about the stigma associated with hearing impairment and hearing aids, fail to realise that untreated hearing loss is actually more noticeable than hearing aids.

If you respond inappropriately in a conversation or miss a punch line of a joke, people might suspect your attention span, mental acuity or your ability to communicate effectively. The symptoms of hearing loss combined with consequences of “untreated hearing loss” can be life altering.

Acceptance is the first step toward improving your hearing

While you can’t completely restore your natural hearing ability with hearing aids, there are several hearing loss solutions that can significantly improve your hearing and quality of life.

But to benefit from a hearing solution, you need to first accept your condition.  Here’s how to accept your hearing loss.

A: Allow yourself to recognise the loss of hearing and the consequences you’re dealing with.

C: Communicate to others about your problem to seek their support and assistance.  

C: Commit to improving your quality of life by getting your hearing assessed and finding the right hearing solution.

E: Explore different practices and exercises to boost your hearing abilities.  

P: Partner with hearing loss community and interact with other people with hearing impairment.  

T: Treat your condition. There are several choices when it comes to hearing aids such as Phonak, Starkey and Siemens hearing aids. To seek the optimal solution and expert assistance and advice, turn to an experienced audiologist.

A: Assist yourself. Let people you meet for the first time know you have a hearing problem. Remind them to be a bit louder and face you when speaking to you. Make a strategic seating arrangement for yourself when visiting a restaurant or someone’s house.

N: Never pull yourself away from social gatherings and activities because of your hearing loss or hearing aids. Most people get supportive once you tell them about your problem.

C: Connect with your hearing professional if you feel any discomfort while wearing your hearing aids.

E: Expect difficulties along the way even with your hearing solution. Keep a positive attitude towards difficulties to drive a seamless hearing experience.

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If you’re dealing with a hearing loss, don’t wait. Get your hearing treated today!

 

What to Do After Buying Your First Pair of Hearing Aids

So, you got your first pair of hearing aids. Congratulations!

You are about to improve your quality of life by enjoying sounds and experiences you had been missing out on due to impaired hearing.

But success with hearing aids call for a little patience and effort on the part of the user. Keep in mind that hearing aids require a short adjustment period for the user to get acquainted with their device and get the most value from their investment.

Here are some tips that will help you get used to your device and make the acclimation process as smooth as possible so that you can enjoy listening from your new hearing aids for years to come.

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Speak with your hearing healthcare professional

Ask any questions and doubts you have regarding the use and function of hearing aids during your appointment. Inform your hearing practitioner in case you feel any discomfort or pain after wearing hearing aids. Advanced hearing devices can be modified to ensure comfortable fit and appropriate listening.

Be patient and cooperate

Hearing loss in most cases develops gradually over time. Since the sounds around you have been muted for years due to your hearing impairment, it can be a bit difficult for your ears and the brain to adapt to these sounds once you start wearing a hearing aid.

There could be certain unfamiliar noises that can sound overwhelming or louder when you are using hearing aids. Consider turning down the volume or move away from a noisy environment if possible until you get used to such sounds and your device.

Get into the habit of wearing hearing ads every day

A quick and effective way to get used to your hearing aid is wearing it every day, everywhere – in the church, theatre, auditorium, concerts or when on the phone. Also, position yourself toward the speaker while wearing hearing aids so that you can hear them clearly.

Furthermore, do not hesitate to seek help and support of your family, friends and people around you during the acclimation process.

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The Last Word

The first few days with your hearing aids will decide whether you will continue to use your device or not. Keeping patience while following the abovementioned tips can help speed up the acclimation process and enhance your experience with hearing aids.

Moreover, to ensure a seamless hearing experience with your device, it is necessary to find the right hearing aids for your hearing condition. HASSA being one of the leading Adelaide hearing clinics, offers a wide range of discount hearing aids from popular brands such as Starkey, Phonak, Widex and Unitron. Consult with the expert team of HASSA to seek an optimal hearing aid solution and advice on hearing care.

 

Hearing Loss Prevention, Assessment & Protection Essentials

Let’s admit it. We live in a loud world. From road traffic to construction works, booming music to lawn mowing, we expose our ears to unsafe noise levels every day.

Entering a highly noisy environment without any hearing protection can cause irreversible damage to our hearing. Unfortunately, we can find ourselves spending a lot of our time in such environments whether it is flying on an airplane or enjoying a crowded music concert.

The good news is that you can protect your ears while preventing noise-induced hearing loss with a little consideration and diligence.

There are three vital aspects to account for when it comes to preventing noise-induced hearing loss –Safe sound Levels, Noise Exposure Limits and Hearing Protection.

So what are safe listening levels?

Knowing daily permissible sound levels can help protect your ears from permanent hearing damage.

Here are some considerations:

  • The average person with normal hearing can hear sound as low as 0dB.
  • However, people with exceptionally good hearing are capable of hearing sounds down to -15dB.
  • The normal recommended volume level of any sound considered safe is below 85 dB. Continuous exposure to sounds above 85dB can lead to permanent damage or hearing loss.

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Why is Hearing Assessment necessary?

While you can prevent noise induced hearing loss by maintaining safe listening levels and protective your ear with appropriate hearing protection devices, it is important to determine your hearing condition if you regularly spend time in a noisy environment.

You might realise that it is difficult for you to hear in particular settings but you can’t determine the intensity of your hearing impairment without clinical hearing evaluation.

Hearing assessments are conducted by professional audiologists to measure what sound one can or cannot hear. Hearing can be evaluated differently in children and adults. Some of the common techniques include speech testing, pure-tone testing, auditory brainstem response and optoacoustic emissions.

Getting your hearing tested as soon as you spot common signs of hearing impairment can help your prevent permanent loss by finding a suitable solution to your problem.

Many audiology clinics conduct free hearing tests to help people identify potential hearing difficulty and receive hearing care and solution as needed.