An estimated 25.4 million people in the United States have mild hearing loss. Without treatment, this common condition can have a significant impact on your quality of life. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, hearing loss (HL) is the third most common cause of disability around the world. In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive overview of mild hearing loss symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Understanding Mild Hearing Loss
The auditory range of the human ear is measured in decibels (dB), which represents the intensity or loudness of a sound. On average, the lowest decibel a human can hear is 0 dB HL, which is nearly silent. Soft sounds, such as breathing, are usually in the 5-10 dB HL range, while a whisper or rustling leaves are around 20-30 dB HL. Mild hearing loss is consistent with having difficulty understanding quiet conversations, not hearing soft water dripping, and having difficulty following conversations when there is background noise.
Learning how to spot the signs and symptoms of mild hearing loss is the first step to taking control of your hearing health. The following is a list of some of the most common symptoms of mild hearing loss:
- Difficulty following conversations in noisy environments
- Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
- Frequently missing a word or two in a sentence, causing difficulty understanding speech
- Increased reliance on visual cues for understanding speech
- More frequent need for increased audio volumes
- People sitting or standing next to you report hearing things you don’t
The most common causes of mild hearing loss in adults include age, damage from loud noises (NIHL), and damage from certain medications (ototoxicity). It can also be caused by an ear infection, excess earwax blockage (cerumen), head trauma, and other medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease.
When children have hearing loss, in the absence of any ear infection, medical condition, or head trauma, the cause is most often genetics.
Effects of Untreated Mild Hearing Loss
One of the most common effects of untreated mild hearing loss is communication difficulties, especially in noisy environments. It’s not uncommon for people to feel embarrassed or even ashamed of losing their hearing, but ignoring the symptoms will only make it worse. The inability to hear and fully participate in conversations due to untreated mild hearing loss can lead to:
- Personal misunderstandings
- Changes in job performance
- Loss of enjoyment in leisure activities
- Feelings of anxiety
- Social isolation
If you have experienced any symptoms of hearing loss, or someone close to you has asked if you are having trouble hearing, it’s important to have your hearing evaluated. During a comprehensive hearing exam, your hearing healthcare provider will be able to detect and measure your level of hearing loss and provide personalized treatment options based on your results.
The exam will begin with a questionnaire to gather information such as health history, relevant symptoms, and current medications. Following a physical exam of your ears, the hearing healthcare professional will have you respond to various tones and words to diagnose the level and nature of your hearing loss. Then solutions will be discussed that will allow you to hear more clearly and engage more fully in conversations and the sounds around you.
Treatment Options for Mild Hearing Loss
Hearing aids are the most effective clinical option for anyone seeking treatment for mild hearing loss. Custom hearing aids can improve your daily quality of life and allow you to take part in conversations effortlessly again. Getting treatment for mild hearing loss begins with a hearing health exam. The results of your hearing test will enable your hearing healthcare professional to find the best hearing aid for your needs and lifestyle.
With advancements in hearing aid technology, hearing loss treatment is more effective than ever before. Many newer hearing aid models have artificial intelligence (AI) technology built right in and can be paired with many helpful hearing health apps as well. When you use these hearing aids with an easy-to-use app like My Audibel, you can:
- Stream digital entertainment, including your TV, to your hearing aids.
- Make hands-free adjustments to your hearing aids.
- Have the Intelligent Assistant set reminders for you.
- Get Language translations in real time.
- Not just hear, but also converse on phone calls hands-free.
All of these features can be found in various styles of aids, ranging from standard (fitting behind the ear) to custom (fitting inside the ear), which can be excellent solutions for mild hearing loss.
Start Your Journey to Better Hearing with a Hearing Loss Screening
Mild hearing loss can be a thing of the past with a pair of prescription hearing aids. Even though your hearing loss may be mild, it can still interfere with your ability to fully engage in noisy spaces. Rather than avoiding such situations, with hearing aids you can enter into these conversations with confidence and hear more completely. This is sure to increase your enjoyment of leisure activities and empower you at work. It all begins with a hearing health exam. If you have experienced any recent changes in your hearing or have not received a hearing test in over three years, don’t wait. Our highly experienced hearing healthcare providers are here to help you rediscover the joys of hearing. Contact any of our hearing clinics conveniently located throughout the United States to schedule an appointment today.