Mild Hearing Loss

What is Mild Hearing Loss?

Mild hearing loss can sometimes go unnoticed at first. However, its impacts on those suffering from this condition can be considerable. Before diagnosis and treatment, mild hearing loss can impact our social lives, well-being and quality of life.

Mild hearing loss is a form of hearing loss and is categorised as a condition in which patients find it difficult to hear certain low-decibel sounds. Often people have difficulty hearing more subtle noises such as whispering, distant conversation, the hum of an appliance and other quieter sounds. Because most of the sounds we must listen to, such as up-close conversation, music and traffic, are louder than this range, many individuals can go undiagnosed for some time.

While it may seem insignificant, it can lead to lifestyle difficulties and, more important, be the warning sign of worsening hearing impairment.

What is considered mild hearing loss?

Sound is measured in decibels. For example, a jet engine can be as loud as 130 decibels, while a normal conversation is around 60 decibels. Now, to answer precisely, “What is considered mild hearing loss?” — people with mild hearing loss have difficulties with sounds in the 26-40 decibel range. This is not to say that individuals with mild hearing loss can hear below 26 decibels; instead, a loss of 26 decibels is still considered ‘normal hearing’ by medical standards. On the other hand, difficulty in hearing sounds above 40 decibels is classified as moderate hearing loss.

Can mild hearing loss be reversed?

Hearing loss can only be reversed if the condition is temporary. Temporary hearing loss can be caused by medication, illness or infection. Age-related, congenital or noise-induced hearing loss is generally permanent. 

Can mild hearing loss be corrected?

In temporary hearing loss, yes, the condition can be corrected. In permanent hearing loss, the goal of treatment is to alleviate any associated symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of mild hearing loss?

Recognising the symptoms of mild hearing loss in yourself or others can be difficult, given the subtle and progressive nature of the changes you may experience or witness. Look out for these key symptoms of mild hearing loss to help determine whether you or someone you love may be experiencing the condition:

  • Difficulty hearing and comprehending speech in particularly noisy environments such as restaurants.
  • Asking people to repeat themselves often.
  • Using the maximum volume or a high setting on speakers or the television to hear clearly.
  • A sense of pressure in your ear.
  • Tinnitus, which is experienced as a ringing in the ears.
  • Behavioural changes, such as withdrawing from social situations due to difficulty hearing.

It's worth recognising that these symptoms can, under the right circumstances, be experienced by people with normal hearing. Mild hearing loss can also present differently in different individuals, so it is essential to get an assessment by an audiologist to make a final diagnosis. 

What are the causes of mild hearing loss?

Knowing the common causes of mild hearing loss is crucial for preventing further hearing deterioration and understanding the best treatments for your condition. Here are some common causes that can contribute to this condition:

  • Congenital factors: Some individuals may be born with hearing loss due to genetic factors and complications during pregnancy and early development. These impairments can vary greatly in severity.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Our hearing naturally declines as we age. While some individuals may experience a more significant loss of hearing than others, most people will see some reduction in hearing, especially in higher frequencies.
  • Noise exposure: Exposure to loud noises can affect our hearing. Whether you work in a loud environment without appropriate protection or frequently listen to loud music at concerts, noise-induced hearing loss can occur suddenly or over time.
  • Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or autoimmune diseases, can affect the blood supply to your ear, ultimately causing hearing loss.
  • Ototoxic medication: Some medications can cause hearing loss. This is a rare side effect in most cases, but if you have taken an ototoxic medication and are experiencing symptoms, it may be a contributing factor.
  • Ear infections or wax build-up: Temporary hearing loss can occur from treatable infections or an excess of ear wax. These are common and treatable.

Treatment for mild hearing loss

Diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve someone's quality of life when living with mild hearing loss. Depending on the causes and severity, as well as a patient's preferences, there are several strategies to improve the condition. Treatment for mild hearing loss may include one or all of the following strategies:

  • Environmental adjustments: Non-medical intervention can be as simple as facing someone while talking, reducing background noise and using assistive technology when possible. It's also wise to avoid loud noises, which could cause further damage.
  • Hearing aids: Hearing aids for mild hearing loss are an effective and relatively non-invasive therapy for restoring a person's ability to hear the world around them. Hearing aids work by amplifying sounds to an appropriate level. If you are in need of hearing aids for mild hearing loss, reach out to the team at Bay Audiology, and we can help you to find the perfect hearing solution.
  • Improved lifestyle: Depending on the cause of the condition, improvements in a person's diet and increased exercise can help slow the onset of further hearing loss.

Do you need a hearing aid for mild hearing loss?

It’s essential to recognise that even mild hearing loss can affect individuals in subtle ways that can take a toll over time.

Hearing aids have come a long way, with technology advancing rapidly in the past few years. Modern hearing aids amplify sounds, improve clarity and help you to hear speech in noisy environments. At Bay Audiology, we can help determine whether a hearing aid fits your needs through a comprehensive hearing test.

Mild hearing loss is categorised as a condition in which people cannot hear sounds in the 26-40 decibel range. This condition can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. Arising due to a number of different reasons, from congenital factors, age and noise exposure to certain medications, the condition is luckily treatable in most cases. While environmental and lifestyle changes can improve your situation, hearing aids effectively mitigate the effects of mild hearing loss. 

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If you want to take the next step towards your hearing health, contact the team at your local Bay Audiology clinic.

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