Adults' Hearing

Children's Hearing

Hearing loss is a common problem among older individuals.

Approximately 25% to 40% of adults over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss, and it is estimated that 40% to 66% of people 75 years, or older, have hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition after high blood pressure and arthritis.

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss is a common problem among older individuals.

Approximately 25% to 40% of adults over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss, and it is estimated that 40% to 66% of people 75 years, or older, have hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition after high blood pressure and arthritis.

There are two major forms of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. A clinical examination by an ENT Surgeon, (a doctor specializing in the ears, nose, and throat), and a hearing test by a Hearing Aid Audiologist, (an expert in hearing testing and hearing aids), can determine the type of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss

This form of hearing loss is usually due to abnormalities in the middle or external ear such as: a punctured eardrum, presence of fluid in the middle ear, or accumulation of cerumen, (ear wax), in the external ear canal.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss accounts for about 90% of hearing loss in adults. It usually caused by damage to the tiny hair cells inside the inner ear that are crucial for picking up sound vibrations and translating them into nerve impulses. These impulses are relayed to the brain which interprets them as sound.

Ear protection, such as ear plugs, should be worn to dampen sound if loud noise is unavoidable. Sensorineural hearing loss that occurs with aging, (presbycusis), or from noise damage, usually occurs in both ears and is gradual.

How do you test for hearing loss?

Specialised facilities and medical expertise are required to test hearing. The environment, equipment and Hearing Aid Audiologist skills are designed to accurately assess your hearing. Methods of self-testing are not reliable and are often very misleading.

What are the effects of hearing loss?

The perceived effects of hearing loss vary from individual to individual but the actual effects are consistent.

The understanding of spoken language by older adults depends on the effects of hearing acuity, age-related cognitive changes and on the characteristics of the message such as syntactic complexity and presentation rate.

At a younger age there are minimal effects with normal hearing but as age groups get older and hearing more impaired there is a significant deterioration, especially when there is background noise or when the speech complexity and presentation rate are increased.

There are six major ways in which hearing loss affects adults. These are:

  1. A perception by people that they are being ignored or that the impaired person is mentally unwell.
  2. A need for repetition or raised voice to understand speech.
  3. The loss of certain speech sounds, resulting in misunderstanding, such as "s", "sh", "f", "t", and "k".
  4. A tendency to develop some sound aversion such as finding loud sounds or raised voice very uncomfortable.
  5. A gradual development of social isolation as situations become embarrassing or impossible to hear. This results in frustration, unhappiness, a loss of self confidence and sometimes other psychological problems.
  6. A loss of spatial awareness, localisation and environmental sounds.

Patients with sensorineural hearing loss often have a hard time filtering out background noises and so may have difficulty following conversations. Other symptoms include tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Limiting exposure to loud noise can minimize hearing loss related to aging.

Is there a choice of treatments?

At the consultation options for treatment will be discussed thoroughly with you. Surgery is sometimes the choice for conductive hearing impairment, but not exclusively. Hearing aids are the only option for sensorineural loss. It is important to fully understand and have confidence in the recommended treatment.

What styles and types of hearing aid are there?

The style and type depends upon a number of factors such as: degree and type of hearing loss, social and work needs and other special requirements.

Our Hearing Aid Audiologist will evaluate your need and suggest the most appropriate audiological intervention system to assist you. These generally comprise of Canal or in the ear instruments, behind the ear instruments, (from miniature to standard size), and new developments in styles, sometimes in conjunction with additional wireless personal communication aids.

Wireless personal communication aids are especially beneficial in theatre, conference or work situations or similar use. Implantable hearing aids are also available, but these are only fitted in conjunction with an ENT surgeon.

How can we verify the effectiveness of hearing aid?

Following audiological testing the Hearing Aid Audiologist will provide a treatment plan. This will include regular reviews to monitor and make any adjustments necessary to the hearing aids. The effectiveness and benefit of the treatment plan requires good participation by the user who will be involved in completing assessments and reporting general findings.

What if hearing aids are insufficient?

Hearing aids can restore the communication link but do not restore hearing to normal. For the more profound hearing loss the user may benefit from a Cochlear Implant. We work closely with Cochlear Implant programmes, but it is a part of conventional medical practice to assess clients using hearing aids prior to consideration for assessment of Cochlea implantation.

Can I share management?

We do not offer a system of shared or top up management for adults under the care of the NHS.

Please note: In the UK you are not required to be referred to us by a specialist but we are required to ensure you do not suffer with any condition which requires medical investigation.