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Just like our eyes, ears play an important role in our daily lives. To hear family talk about their day, share a joke with a friend, listen to the crunch of the sand or the sound of a summer breeze – these are the sounds that enrich our lives. But hearing loss can sneak up on you, reducing your enjoyment of these precious moments. Hearing loss can be triggered by loud noises, infections and it can even be hereditary. Although hearing loss is gradual in most cases, it can occur suddenly. Fortunately, in most cases hearing loss can be improved, or even fully corrected, using a hearing aid. Find out how.

First signs

You are not alone.

In New Zealand, approximately 1 in 6 people have a hearing loss of some degree. Hearing loss rarely occurs all of a sudden. It usually develops gradually, as we get older. Over a third of New Zealanders over 65 years of age experience hearing impairment. In the onset of gradual hearing loss there are few disadvantages in everyday life as our brains can compensate with a slight loss. 

A man staring off into the distance
However there comes a certain point where hearing loss can no longer be readily compensated for. Often it takes someone who cares, like a family member or friend, to help someone with hearing loss understand the sounds they're missing. In the case of gradual hearing loss, these changes are almost unnoticeable.

At Triton Hearing, we know acknowledging hearing loss isn't easy. There are many people who are aware of having a hearing loss but won't tackle it in the early stages. They put off a hearing test with an audiologist or ENT doctor. 

The sooner you take action about hearing loss, the sooner you can enjoy life now and into the future. Take the first steps to better hearing today.
Enjoying the sounds your love can improve your quality of life and emotional well-being. Researchers have found that after about seven years with untreated hearing loss, our brains simply lose the ability to hear certain sounds. Clinical trials have shown that people who wear hearing aids have significant improvements in social function, communication, and state of mind compared to people with hearing loss who did not wear hearing aids.
 
The following three questions may help you find out if you have hearing loss:
Do you hear low background noise excessively loudly?
Do low, buzzing sounds suddenly seem unnaturally loud to you? For example, traffic noise behind a closed window? Or the fridge humming? If they do, this could be an indication of hearing loss.
Do you have the TV up very loud?
Do people around you tell you that your TV or radio is too loud? It might mean that you are being affected by the onset of hearing loss.
Do you find conversations stressful?
Do you have to concentrate very hard during conversations with one person or multiple people? Do you quickly start to feel tired or stressed? Do you worry that making mistakes makes everything worse? This is a key indication of the onset of hearing loss.
You can find more information here on whether you might need a hearing aid:

What happens in the event of hearing loss?

The ear is a complex organ and the cause of hearing loss can be found within various points: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear or even the auditory nerve. Hearing loss is not always age-related. It can also be triggered by loud noises, infections, poisoning or injuries, or may be hereditary.
 
It is mainly the higher frequencies that are affected first in most cases. Because these are important for hearing the so-called voiceless consonants (f, s, p, t), the understanding of speech is often impaired at an early stage. Depending on the type of hearing loss, other symptoms appear, for example tinnitus, noise sensitivity, or dizziness. In almost all cases, hearing loss is permanent, and it is often difficult to predict how it will progress.

Many people that are affected are unaware that untreated hearing loss sooner or later has an impact on the mind or on quality of life. People with untreated hearing loss often complain of chronic fatigue. For them, conversations are so stressful that they would rather avoid social contact, and they increasingly withdraw. Studies show that the likelihood of older people with hearing loss starting to develop dementia is higher than among those with normal hearing.

What can be done about hearing loss?

Whether or not a hearing aid can be used to compensate for or reduce hearing loss depends on the cause. In most cases, this is possible. When amplifying and modulating background noise, the hearing aid takes into account how the auditory response area in our heads processes sounds and voices. And now with modern technology it makes hearing easier and more comfortable again.
Today's hearing technology separates voices from background noise, making it easier for someone with hearing loss to understand and stay focused on a conversation. In addition, the hearing loss is compensated for so that both ears can work together again optimally, which improves precise directional hearing. This works by the hearing aids on both ears communicating with one another.

How music can help

Music is not only the perfect way to improve your mood or relax, but it can also have a therapeutic effect – not only for depression and stress, but also for hearing loss.

The principle is that the complex combination of music and speech, in addition to rhythm, pitch, and timbre, can be used to practice speech comprehension and communication skills.
This is because those affected by hearing loss often find it difficult to follow conversations when there is background noise. Specifically, this can be practiced with music therapy, in a fun way. For people with hearing loss, music can be a way to find joy in hearing again, and can therefore lead to a better quality of life.

The sooner you take action about hearing loss, the sooner you can enjoy life now and into the future. Take the first steps to better hearing today.

Hearing loss in numbers

  • Around 1.1 billion people worldwide are affected by hearing loss, which is approximately 16 percent of the world’s population
  • Only 1 or 2 in every 1,000 newborn babies is affected by significant hearing loss
  • One in three people over 60 years of age is affected by hearing loss
  • A third of all those with hearing loss are of retirement age
  • 65 percent of people with hearing loss have mild hearing loss, 30 percent have moderate hearing loss, and only 5 percent have serious or profound hearing loss
  • Only one in five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one
  • On average, people with hearing loss wait a full 10 years until they do something about it

The basis used is the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, which states that a person with hearing loss of more than 25 decibels (dB) has hearing damage.

Reasons behind increased hearing loss

Modern civilization and the our lifestyles are directly linked as to why more and more people worldwide are being affected by hearing loss. The most important factors are:
Age
Thanks to modern medicine and high standards of living, life expectancy is continuing to rise. The probability of developing hearing loss also increases with age. One in two people over 70 years of age is affected by hearing loss.
Urban lifestyles
Traffic, construction sites, industrial plants, loud music and warning signals are only some of the permanent sources of noise that affect us in any city. It’s predominantly young people that frequently strain their hearing by listening to loud music through headphones. This constant exposure to sound has fatal consequences for human hearing. The sensitive sensory cells in the inner ear can never entirely recover, and degrade prematurely.
Insufficient ear protection
Despite clear noise protection regulations, thousands of people expose themselves to damaging noise levels in Germany every day without any protection, both at work (e.g. machine noise) and in their free time (loud music). In these situations, it would be very easy for them to protect themselves against these damaging noise levels.

Do hearing aids help with all types of hearing loss?

Most people with hearing loss benefit from treatment with a hearing aid; however, not every form of hearing loss can be compensated for using a hearing aid.
 
In principle, a distinction is made between three types of hearing loss: 
  • conductive hearing loss,
  • sound perception hearing loss,
  • and sensorineural hearing loss.

An important tip: If you feel that your hearing may have deteriorated recently, then don’t hesitate to visit an ENT doctor or audiologist, because, regardless of the cause of your hearing loss, early diagnosis gives you a significant advantage.
Conductive hearing loss usually relates to blockages or inflammation in the outer or middle ear. Depending on the cause, medication, syringing, or surgical intervention may help.

In sound perception hearing loss, the processing of the signals in the brain is disturbed. The person affected does hear the sounds, but they cannot correctly place them. This is very difficult to treat.
The most common category is sensorineural hearing loss, and the cause is found in the inner ear, in the region of the cochlea (damaged sensory cells) or – in rarer cases – in the auditory nerve. The sound does reach the inner ear, but it is not correctly transmitted from there.

The good news for those with sensorineural hearing loss is that you can usually compensate for this by using a modern hearing aid. This can noticeably improve your hearing.

Do hearing aids help even with mild hearing loss?

Most sounds in our daily lives – speech, music, the telephone ringing – are within a frequency range of 500 to 3000 Hertz (Hz). If your hearing curve falls below a threshold of 25 decibels (dB) in this range, then you have mild hearing loss. Even in this range, using a modern hearing aid is definitely advisable, since it can noticeably improve your hearing.
Treatment with a hearing aid may also be advisable if, despite not yet having reached the above-mentioned degree of hearing loss, the person does experience some psychological strain. Therefore, it’s not just the audiogram measurement that is the deciding factor; an individual’s personal experiences are just as important.

At Triton Hearing you can trial a the hearing aid  for free to and see how it might work for you. Click here to find out how easy it is to get used to a hearing aid.
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Other topics

What is sudden hearing loss?
How can I have my hearing tested?
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