Posted by Rosie Dooley, BSc (Hons) Audiology, RHAD on April 24, 2020
The words severe and profound are quite scary sounding words when an Audiologist explains your hearing test result. Let’s look into what these terms really mean for you and how you can manage this level of hearing loss.
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 thresholds are beyond 70dB(HL) on the audiogram, this is a severe hearing loss and when they’re beyond 9-dB(HL), this is a profound hearing loss. The audiogram is the chart used to plot the results of pure tone audiometry.
The effects of a severe-profound hearing loss will vary for each individual. This is because it will depend upon how well a person can process the sounds that they can hear, their ability to lip read and how long they have had the severe-profound hearing loss for. It is generally accepted that a bilateral (both sides) profound hearing loss will affect all aspects of daily communication, especially when hearing aids are not worn. Listed here are just some of these difficulties.
If a severe-profound conductive or mixed hearing loss is newly diagnosed, a discussion with the GP or hearing care professional about a referral to see an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) consultant would be helpful. Depending on the cause of the conductive loss, there may be surgical intervention or bone conduction aids that can improve the hearing. If the loss is sensorineural, a consultation with an ENT professional is still recommended as the hearing loss may meet the candidacy for a cochlear implant.
If any surgical/medical options have been ruled out, then hearing devices can help manage a severe-profound hearing loss. Hearing aids and assistive listening devices are programmed according to a person’s individual hearing thresholds, therefore giving them access to the speech sounds that they struggle to hear unaided. However, the worse the hearing thresholds are, the greater the amplification requirements of sound and the more distorted it can become.
It is very important that realistic expectations of what hearing aids can and cannot do are set for those with a severe-profound hearing loss. For those living in the UK, hearing aids can be accessed via the NHS if the individual meets the local provision criteria. 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.
First-time wearers of hearing aids, whose hearing has already deteriorated to severe-profound levels, can expect a longer acclimatisation period compared with those of a mild hearing loss. This is because of the amount of sound that is “given” back, for the brain to adjust to. This is why it is always recommended that hearing help is sought as soon as symptoms of hearing loss is noticed – the earlier you start on your journey to better hearing, the easier it is likely to be for you to adjust to hearing aids.
Assistive listening devices that can connect wirelessly to hearing aids can be hugely beneficial in the management of a severe-profound 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 BY CLICKING HERE to find out more.
Occasionally, for those stubborn ones among us who may have left things until their family are at their wit’s end, extended auditory deprivation can mean that adjusting to hearing aids is not possible. For these cases, TV listeners can be a huge help for the household dynamic if the TV lover with a severe-profound hearing loss refuses hearing aids. By wearing TV listening headphones, they can listen at their own volume preference without disturbing other members of the household or their neighbours. TV listening devices can also be found on our sister site