What You May Want to Observe
There are no universal guides that have been settled upon to diagnose hidden hearing loss, but here are some things that you may notice.
What Happens to Your Brain During Hidden Hearing Loss?
During the process of hearing, cilia (tiny hair cells) located in the inner ear will vibrate and send a signal to the auditory nerve (vestibulocochlear nerve). It is vital that these signals navigate over synapses, which are crucial connections between the nerve cells.
Typical hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the nerve or hair cells. Hidden hearing loss usually emerges due to the loss of synapses between the cilia and the vestibulocochlear nerve. As a result, the noise that is signaled will be incomplete. This is what causes those with hidden hearing loss to miss information that is necessary to decipher language.
A 2009 study that was conducted on mice, showed that loud noises could damage synapses. The mice were exposed to 100-decibels of noise - approximately the same level of sound from a lawnmower - for two hours. The researchers found that the mice’s hair cells were still in tact, but half of their synapses were permanently destroyed.
Individuals who have lost their synapses might be able to hear a beeping noise during their hearing test, even if it is at a reduced volume that would confuse someone who has cell or nerve damage.
Causes of Hidden Hearing Loss
The combination of excessive noise and aging tend to worsen hidden hearing loss. The majority of researchers have found that extensive exposure to low noise levels might induce hidden hearing loss. It is generally agreed upon that aging exposes this issue. Some synapses are lost as we age.
Another cause may be complications with cells that produce myelin (a substance which insulates the brain cells in your ears). Some autoimmune disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome - associated with food poisoning, the flu, hepatitis, and the Zika virus - attack myelin.
Hidden hearing loss is sometimes undiagnosed and gets mistaken for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or central auditory processing disorder. Central auditory processing disorder is usually diagnosed in children and occurs in a different level of the brain.
Living with Hidden Hearing Loss
In some cases, a person with hidden hearing loss may stand or sit with a small group of people while there are several others around, and not be able to hear the people right next to them. After moving into a different room, with only a few people, this person may still need to move closer in order to hear others. Whispers can be heard in quiet spaces, but comprehending speech in noisy surroundings can be difficult.
Results from a hearing test can show normal ranges, and no treatment would be given.
Treating Hidden Hearing Loss
If you have slight or mild hearing loss, you may find hearing aids that feature a “speech in noise” program to be beneficial. These hearing aids use directional microphones to harness the sounds emanating in front of you and diminish the sounds on your sides or behind you. There is also the option of placing a microphone close to the signal that you are trying to hear, and wearing a Bluetooth receiver or hearing aid.
Please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation. We have experienced hearing instrument specialists who will work with you until you feel comfortable with your hearing aid devices.
Pure Sound will only be open by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require repairs, re-fittings and new hearing aid fittings. If you are having any problems with your hearing aids, or need supplies for your hearing aids, please call us before visiting of our office locations.