Today, one in six Australians experience hearing loss, and this is expected to increase to one in four by 2050. Despite the prevalence of hearing loss in Australia, it remains a topic that is misunderstood. To combat the stigma surrounding hearing loss and to encourage people to seek help when needed, it’s essential that we are educated about hearing loss and aware of common misunderstandings. Here are three of today’s most common hearing loss myths.
Hearing loss only affects old people
While it’s true that age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the most common type of hearing impairment, there are other types of hearing loss caused by factors that have nothing to do with age. There are three types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed. Sensorineural is the most common, and while presbycusis is the most common type of sensorineural hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss can also be caused by autoimmune and blood diseases, infections such as meningitis and measles, traumatic injuries, and extremely loud noises.
In fact, noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common type of sensorineural hearing loss. This is caused by regular exposure to loud environments, and thus can be easily prevented. If you regularly listen to loud music, attend concerts or work in a noisy environment such as construction, you could be at risk of irreparably damaging your hearing. Unsurprisingly, noise-induced hearing loss significantly affects young adults and teens, proving that by no means does youth exempt you from hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be fixed with surgery
Another common hearing loss myth is that it can be fixed with surgery. Unfortunately, many cases of hearing loss are irreparable, however there are a few rare cases where surgery can help. People with severe sensorineural hearing loss may be able to have part of their hearing restored with a cochlear implant. Cochlear implant surgery is only performed after an extensive evaluation of the patient’s ear and the overall auditory system, and if the patient has already tried hearing aids to no avail. Cochlear implants differ from hearing aids in that they directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
There is also surgery for conductive hearing loss, which occurs when the outer or middle ear is obstructed or damaged and prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear. When children have conductive hearing loss, paediatricians may perform surgery to insert small pressure equalisation tubes, which are placed through the eardrum to allow air into the middle ear. Thus, surgery for hearing loss is infrequent and invasive, given the delicate nature of your hearing organs.
Only people with severe hearing loss need hearing aids
Nowadays, there is a wide range of hearing aids on offer designed for anyone who experiences a degree of hearing loss. While many people think that only people with severe hearing loss require hearing aids, the truth is that it isn’t always this straightforward. Hearing loss comes in many shapes and sizes; for example, some people experience hearing loss where they only struggle to hear certain pitches.
People with high-frequency hearing loss struggle to hear high-frequency sounds, which includes the consonants s, h or f. This means that they also have trouble hearing female voices over male voices, and other high-frequency sounds such as birds singing, or the high-pitched beeps emitted from household appliances such as smoke alarms, washing machines and microwaves. Conversely, people who experience low frequency hearing loss will struggle to properly hear male voices, as well as other sounds such as engines and the bassline in music. Thus, hearing loss can manifest itself in different ways, yet one doesn’t have to be nearing deafness to benefit from hearing aids.
Lifelong support for better hearing at The Art of Hearing
While hearing loss can present itself in many ways, our expert team at The Art of Hearing are prepared for all scenarios. Our audiologists understand that your hearing health affects all facets of life, and thus are dedicated to offering you lifelong support for better hearing. For more information about our hearing solutions, book an appointment online or call us at (08) 9390 8811.