Hearing loss is a common condition that affects people of all ages, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – live with a disabling hearing loss.
Hearing aids are one of the most common treatments for hearing loss, but many people with mild hearing loss wonder if they really need them. In this blog, we’ll explore whether or not hearing aids are necessary for people with mild hearing loss.
What is mild hearing loss?
Let’s define what we mean by “mild” hearing loss. Hearing loss is typically measured in decibels (dB); mild hearing loss is generally defined as a loss of 26-45 dB. This means that people with mild hearing loss may have difficulty hearing soft or distant sounds, or may need people to speak louder than usual in order to understand them.
So, do people with mild hearing loss need hearing aids? The answer is not a simple yes or no. The decision to use hearing aids depends on several factors, including the severity of the hearing loss, the individual’s lifestyle and communication needs, and personal preferences.
How do I know if I’m experiencing mild hearing loss?
Mild hearing loss is often difficult to detect since the changes in hearing ability can be gradual and subtle. However, there are certain signs that can indicate the presence of mild hearing loss.
Common symptoms of mild hearing loss include difficulty hearing soft sounds, such as whispers or distant conversations; you may also struggle to understand speech in noisy environments or have to ask others to repeat themselves frequently. Another sign is a tendency to turn up the volume on the television or radio more than usual.
If you suspect that you may have mild hearing loss, it’s important to get evaluated as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can help prevent further hearing loss and improve your overall quality of life.
Can mild hearing loss be prevented?
In most cases, mild hearing loss that isn’t related to injury or illness, medication or genetics can be prevented. By changing your lifestyle habits and wearing protective earplugs or headphones, you can prolong your hearing capacity.
Wear ear protection in loud environments
If you know you’re going to be exposed to loud noises, such as during work, at a concert or whilst using power tools, we highly recommend protecting your hearing by wearing protective earplugs or headphones. This can reduce the decibels that you hear which in turn protects your ears from hearing loss and damage.
Turning down the volume
Whether you’re listening to music on personal listening devices, or watching the television with your family in the sitting room, turning down the volume to a reasonable level is recommended. What “reasonable” is will change from device to device, person to person, however if you’re struggling to gauge what a sensible volume level is, ask someone else in the room if the volume is too loud.
With personal listening devices, many these days have a built-in feature that will alert you if you’re volume has been too high for too long. If your device doesn’t have this feature, a general rule of thumb is if the person next to you can hear your music, it’s too loud. Investing in a quality set of headphones or earphones that have noise-reducing technology can help block out background noise so you don’t need to up the volume so much.
Take breaks from excessive noise
This is easier said than done in many cases, but where possible it’s advisable to take breaks from loud noises. If you’re working in a loud environment, remove yourself from that space for a reasonable break (maybe have a hot beverage in the meantime). Or if you’re wearing headphones for long periods of time, take them off to relieve any inner ear pressure and give your ears a break from the noise.
What to consider when getting hearing aids
One crucial factor to consider is the impact of hearing loss on your daily life. Even mild hearing loss can make it difficult to hear in certain situations, such as in noisy environments or when talking on the phone.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommendations states that we should:
- 1.6.1 – Offer hearing aids to adults whose hearing loss affects their ability to communicate and hear, including awareness of warning sounds and the environment, and appreciation of music.
- 1.6.2 – Offer 2 hearing aids to adults with aidable hearing loss in both ears. Explain that wearing 2 hearing aids can help to make speech easier to understand when there is background noise, make it easier to tell where sounds are coming from, and improve sound quality.
If someone with mild hearing loss is having trouble communicating with others or feels that hearing loss is impacting their quality of life, then hearing aids may be a good option.
Another factor to think about is your communication needs. People with mild hearing loss may be able to get by without hearing aids in many situations, but if their job or social life requires them to interact with others frequently, then hearing aids can be helpful.
Hearing aids can improve speech understanding and make it easier to follow conversations in loud environments.
And finally, your personal preferences also need to be considered. Some people are reluctant to use hearing aids due to the stigma attached to wearing them, or they feel that they are not necessary for their level of hearing loss. However, others may be eager to try hearing aids to improve their hearing and communication abilities.
Ultimately, the decision to use hearing aids for mild hearing loss is a personal one that should be made in consultation with a hearing healthcare professional.
They can help evaluate the severity of your hearing loss and provide guidance on whether hearing aids are necessary. They can also help you choose the right type of hearing aid based on your communication needs and personal preferences.
How can I test my hearing at home?
A hearing test is the first step in evaluating your hearing capability and getting you on the road to clear hearing. Have you tried our free online hearing test? All you need is a stable internet connection and a pair of headphones or earphones to get started.
This free online hearing test will help you determine whether you need to get booked in for further assessment.
You can book an appointment for your hearing test using our online portal. We offer appointments at our Sharrow Vale clinic and we also operate out of the High Trees Clinic based in Dore Village. Alternatively, you can book an online for a home visit – ideal for those unable to access our clinics.