If you have difficulty with your hearing, you are not alone. Around 2.8 million Australians have some degree of hearing impairment. Hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on our lives; our social interactions and relationships, our health, our mental well-being, our academic outcomes and employment opportunities. Unfortunately, people often wait many years before seeking treatment.
Untreated hearing loss can lead people to withdraw from friends and groups, contributing to social isolation and loneliness. Maintaining strong social attachments is important for keeping your brain active and engaged.
Hearing loss is not only suffered by the person with the physical hearing loss. Loved ones and friends are also affected by the ongoing strain associated with communication which can contribute to disconnection and frustration.
Isolation associated with untreated hearing loss can lead to depression. Hearing aids, aural rehabilitation and communication training can improve communication and reduce the social and emotional impact of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be negatively associated with job security, workplace safety and the likelihood of promotion. Well fitted hearing aids can mitigate the loss of income associated with hearing loss.
Listening and communicating with hearing loss can require significant energy and attention. Properly fitted hearing aids along with communication strategies reduce the effort required to listen and communicate.
When both tinnitus and hearing loss occur together, well fitted hearing aids can help to reduce the perception of tinnitus. Some hearing aids also include a noise generator which can assist with tinnitus relief.
Sound travels within our environment as waves. These waves then travel along the ear canal to the ear drum (tympanic membrane). The ear drum beats back and forth with the sound waves creating small vibrations that are conveyed along the bones of the middle ear (ossicles) to the cochlear. These vibrations are converted into a wave that travels along the cochlea and generates electrical signals (nerve impulses) which are conveyed along the auditory nerve to the brain. The auditory centres of our brain interpret these signals as the sounds we hear.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the name given to hearing loss that arises from damage to the auditory nerve or within the cochlear. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss is usually managed with a customised hearing aid fitting and aural rehabilitation.
Conductive hearing loss refers to the hearing difficulties that arise from either a disease or a malformation of the ossicles, ear drum (tympanic membrane) or Eustachian tube. This type of hearing loss may be responsive to surgical intervention and is often well managed with customised hearing aids and aural rehabilitation.
Hearing aids can be an important component of hearing rehabilitation by making speech clearer and easier to understand. However, hearing aid fittings are most successful when they are accompanied by an auditory rehabilitation program. These programs assist people to identify, process and use the sounds that they were previously unable to hear. Hearelief supports and monitors all of our clients with independent, expert and caring audiological advice, throughout the whole process.