Whether it’s old age or loud music, we’re all susceptible to potential hearing loss. But how do you recognize the difference between losing your ability to hear and simply not being able to hear someone? While increasingly asking, “what?” during conversations are potential signs of hearing loss, does that mean you should be fitted for hearing aids? Not necessarily. Things like tinnitus may seem like a sign of hearing loss, but the two are not always correlated.
What is tinnitus?
A constant ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus. If you experience tinnitus, that’s probably a sign that you’ve experienced some kind of damage to your ears or auditory system. This can cause hearing loss, but these two things are not always correlated. Tinnitus can go away on its own over time, but this can take years. Many people that have continuous ringing in their ears choose to see an audiologist near them to discuss their options with this problem.
Top Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is different for everyone. No matter what your unique situation may be, it’s a good idea to get a hearing test to make sure you’re up-to-date on your hearing health. Typically, hearing loss happens gradually over time, and there are many factors that can contribute to needing a hearing aid:
- Exposure to loud noise. Remember when you were younger and your parents told you not to listen to the radio at full blast? They weren’t just saying that because they didn’t like the music you listen to. Listening to music or other sounds at high levels can lead to some level of hearing loss or cause tinnitus. If you are commonly exposed to loud music or you work in a job like construction where there’s loud equipment, make sure you’re taking the proper precautions and wearing gear to muffle the sounds and protect your ears.
- Head or ear injuries. If you’ve suffered a series of concussions or other types of head and ear injuries, it’s not unusual to experience some type of hearing loss or suffer from ringing in your eas, known as tinnitus. Remember to be responsible and always wear protective headgear when you’re involved in an activity that’s prone to injuries.
- Aging. Since hearing loss is a gradual issue, many people automatically associate it with getting older. As you age, getting a hearing test and knowing when you need hearing aids becomes more important. Knowing what level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid will allow you to prepare yourself for the possibility of wearing a hearing device down the road.
- Genetics. Like many medical issues, hearing problems can also be linked to genetics. Chances are if your parents had hearing issues or a hearing aid, you might need one, too.
- Viral infections. Have you recently been ill from measles, mumps, rubella or another viral infection? In many cases, these diseases have been linked to sudden hearing loss due to inflammation in the inner ear.
- Malformations or syndromes. Certain abnormalities at birth can lead to hearing problems. The most common examples include diseases like Microtia and Atresia, or syndromes such as Goldenhar, Down and Treacher Collins.
- Benign tumors. Sometimes when people go to the doctor because they’re experiencing hearing issues, further inspections and tests will reveal a benign tumor blocking sound somewhere in the ear canal.
What Level of Hearing Loss Requires a Hearing Aid?
No matter the cause of your hearing loss, the important thing is how to know if you need hearing aids. The good news is, not all levels of hearing loss requires a hearing aid, but if you’re unsure, it could be time to schedule a hearing test. Our Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at Greater Regional Health encourages hearing loss patients to get regular hearing loss tests or check in with an audiologist near them. This lets you and your doctor monitor your level of hearing loss and decide together when it’s time to commit to hearing aids.
There are a few factors of hearing loss that affect your level of hearing. Audiologists take the pitch and volume of sounds into consideration to determine whether or not you need hearing aids.
This hearing level ranges from 0 to 25 dB. People who have a normal range of hearing can easily hear sounds that are as quiet as people whispering, birds chirping and leaves rustling in the wind.
Mild Hearing Loss
Mild levels of hearing loss include sounds between 26 to 40 dB. Noises within this range would be typing on a keyboard, moderate rainfall or other quiet background noises. Usually people with mild hearing loss do not require a hearing aid.
Moderate Hearing Loss
A moderate level of hearing loss ranges between 41 to 70 dB. If you struggle with hearing conversations at an average volume, you probably have moderate hearing loss. Other noises at this level include the noise of a rotating fan or air conditioning unit. If you have trouble hearing things under this noise level, you may want to consider a hearing aid soon or taking additional precautions to protect your hearing.
Severe Hearing Loss
This level of hearing loss stretches between 71 to 90 dB. People with severe hearing loss struggle to hear noises below the level of city traffic, a vacuum cleaner or a lawn mower. If you fall in this range of hearing, you should visit an audiology and hearing aid center to learn more about your hearing aid options.
Profound Hearing Loss
Profound hearing loss levels includes anything over 91 dB. All types of heavy machinery would fall under this category, such as tractors, motorcycles, drills, chainsaws, airplanes and more. Patients with profound hearing loss need a hearing aid so they don’t miss out on what’s going on around them.
Where To Get a Hearing Test
If you’re wondering whether you have a hearing problem or you think you fall under one of the levels of hearing loss that requires a hearing aid, visit Greater Regional Health. In order to get an accurate hearing test, patients need to visit a professional audiologist near by. Luckily for patients near Creston, Iowa, our team has been expanding our audiology capabilities and services. If you’re wondering where to get a hearing test or need to be fitted for hearing aids, visit the Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at Greater Regional Health. Our local experts are excited to provide these professional skills and be able to assist people within our surrounding communities. Contact an audiologists near you today at 641-782-3551 to schedule an appointment