Imagine getting a hearing test, and having it read normal, even though you still have trouble hearing. This dilemma is where people with hidden hearing loss or auditory synaptopathy find themselves. Hidden hearing loss is hearing loss that can’t be measured by a traditional audiogram. The results of the audiogram look much like a normal hearing test.
Loud noise can damage the hair cells in your inner ear, as well as the ear’s nerve cells. Damage to the nerve cells makes it harder for a person to detect sounds in noisy places. The injury occurs in the nerve cells that connect the cochlea in the inner ear to the brain. The nerve cells can no longer send information to the brain because the connections with the hair cells are lost. At this point, the brain receives less information from the ear and struggles to interpret the information correctly.
Hidden hearing loss does not typically affect a person’s ability to hear quiet sounds. The difficulty is trying to listen to sounds when they are competing with background noise. With a hidden hearing loss, you may feel more tired than you usual. This listening fatigue is the result of straining to hear what others are saying. You may find yourself depending less on what people are saying and depending more on context to understand conversations. Certain sounds might give you some problems, such as high-pitched voices or low frequencies.
The best treatment for hidden hearing loss is prevention. It is critical to protect your ears from excessively loud noise. Consider using quality earplugs or even custom earplugs that will allow you to lower the volume of your music or podcasts. Hearing protection for concerts, loud machinery, and lawnmowers is crucial. If noisy restaurants and public places bother you, check out the SoundPrint app for your smartphone. This remarkable prevention tool will allow you to find quiet venues throughout your city.
Providing the brain with additional information during stressful situations is the key to treating hidden hearing loss. Hearing technology, such as hearing aids, increase the ease of listening to speech in loud environments. Proper fitting hearing aids are successful for hidden hearing loss, and researchers are investigating other diagnostic methods and treatment options.
Researchers are creating a new test to help detect hidden hearing loss in individuals who have normal findings on their audiograms. The test detects deficits in the binaural auditory processing system. This research may help practitioners identify hidden hearing loss early.
If left untreated, hidden hearing loss can easily lead to a more profound hearing loss over time. If you are facing hearing loss, schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional today. The practitioner can identify any hearing problems and help you treat your hearing loss. Remember that early detection of hearing loss is key to preventing further damage to your hearing.