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.
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.
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.
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.