Hidden hearing loss a relatively new term. It describes hearing loss that cannot be measured by standard hearing tests, even though you might have difficulty hearing, especially in background noise or in other challenging environments.
How is hidden hearing loss measured?
There is no standard test protocol to detect hidden hearing loss. If you have hidden hearing loss, you may have normal results during a diagnostic hearing exam. At Palm Coast Hearing Center, we do additional testing that will evaluate your hearing abilities in the presence of background noise, so we can better understand the difficulties you may be experiencing.
The cause of hidden hearing loss
There is still plenty of research to be done in this area, but initial research suggests that hidden hearing loss is caused by damage to cells in the hearing organ (cochlea) in the inner ear. These cells connect the hearing organ to the brain. Once damaged, these cells are no longer able to send information to the brain. This can cause the brain to not receive a clear sound signal and to not interpret the sound correctly.
What to do if you think you have hidden hearing loss
If you suspect that you may have a hearing loss, then you should schedule an appointment with us for further evaluation. If hidden hearing loss is suspected, communication strategies and assistive listening devices may be used to help in difficult listening situations. You probably don’t need hearing aids, but there are a variety of other tools available that may help you communicate more effectively. For example there are simple amplifiers that are affordable and easy to use that you can use when you go to meetings or other situations where you need help hearing better. There are accessibility tools available in many public spaces like movie theaters that you can request as well. There are special TV amplification devices that actually make the speech on TV clearer, not louder. We can help you understand how use to activate accessibility settings in your smart phone and television too. With aural rehabilitation, we can also teach you to hear and process speech and communicate better with your loved ones.
Protecting your hearing is the most important step in preventing hidden hearing loss!
What steps can you take to prevent hidden hearing loss?
• Wear proper hearing protection (earmuffs, earplugs) when in noisy environments such as: concerts, sporting events, fireworks displays, and car races. Hearing protection comes in a variety of sizes and textures to provide optimal fit. Custom-made earplugs can be obtained from an audiologist.
• Set volume limits on your portable devices.
• Walk away from loud sounds.
The role of an audiologist
As your audiologists and hearing care partners, we identify, diagnose, and manage hearing loss and work closely with physicians, when necessary, as an important part of the management team.