Posted by Rosie Dooley, BSc (Hons) Audiology, RHAD on April 17, 2020
When a hearing loss progresses into what audiologists describe as moderate, it becomes quite difficult to ignore and very rarely goes unnoticed by the sufferer. Let’s talk about what makes a moderate hearing loss, how it will affect your daily life and what you can do about it.
When describing hearing loss, hearing care professionals will ideally stay away from giving overall percentages and look at the hearing thresholds on an audiogram between the frequencies 500hz and 4Khz. When these thresholds fall between 40-69dB(HL) on the audiogram, this is a moderate hearing loss. The audiogram is the chart used to plot the results of pure tone audiometry. A hearing loss can fall between different severities at different frequencies – if so it may be that there is a mild-moderate or moderate-severe hearing loss.
The effects of a moderate hearing loss can be very different from person to person. This is because it will also depend upon how well a person can process the sounds that they can hear, this is a brain function and not an ear function! However, listed here are the difficulties a person with a moderate hearing loss may encounter. Some of these are relevant to mild hearing loss too. Following soft voices or when the speaker is turned away
Depending on the shape of hearing loss, some speech sounds will be heard more easily than others. For example, a person with a moderate sloping loss will hear the vowel sounds more easily than the beginning and ends of words and so speech can often sound mumbly or lacking in clarity. Especially when the speaker has a soft voice, it can be more difficult to fill in the gaps that are not heard.
If the speaker is turned away, there is no access to the visual clues of the lips that everyone can “read” to some degree. The brain has to work hard to fill in the gaps, and it cannot do it well all of the time:
“What is time?” “Yes, I would like some wine!”
Unless the hearing loss has a conductive element (e.g. glue ear) then it is unlikely that the hearing will return to normal on its own or with medical/surgical intervention. An audiologist will be able to explain more about the type of hearing loss a person has and whether a referral to an ENT consultant would be appropriate. If not, however, hearing aids can provide the amplification needed to combat a moderate hearing loss. For those living in the UK, hearing aids can be accessed via the NHS if the individual meets the local provision criteria.
Some areas are sadly not funded to provide hearing aids to individuals with mild-moderate hearing losses. This is frustrating to both the individual and the NHS Audiologist as they will know how much benefit is to be gained. Anyone can access hearing aids of a wider range of styles and technology levels privately. Of course, if you live in Leicestershire, Warwickshire or Northamptonshire, we will always recommend you come to visit us at one of our Hear4U branches to see how we can help you. Private hearing care has become more accessible since the introduction of interest-free finance plans, which we are proud to offer so that we can help more people.
Assistive listening devices that can connect wirelessly to hearing aids can be hugely beneficial in the management of a moderate hearing loss. Those who have greater difficulty processing sound in noisy environments are most likely to benefit from the use of a gadget called a remote microphone. Audiologists at Hear4U have access to speech-in-noise testing so are able to explain the individual ability to process sound in challenging environments and therefore whether a remote microphone will suit somebody’s needs.
TV streamers are a fantastic way to get the best quality of sound when watching favourite television programmes and mean that the hearing aid user and their family can watch at their own preferred volume. Most new technology private hearing aids will be able to connect wirelessly to mobile phones, but for slightly older models, a phone clip or adapter will enable the wearer to stream sound from their mobile (and more!). If you already have a pair of hearing aids and want to purchase an assistive listening device, head over to our sister site https://www.hearingaidaccessories.co.uk/ to find out more.