Oh, the frustration of noisy environments: hidden hearing loss

Do you have normal hearing, but when you are at a gathering or dining in a noisy restaurant, do you struggle to hear the person next to you? This is a phenomenon called ‘hidden hearing loss’.

Posted Wednesday March 3, 2021

Evidently it is common. More than 25% of people have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. And although this is true of all people with hearing loss, the difference is that those with hidden hearing loss have normal hearing-test results and otherwise no problem hearing. There is yet no diagnostic test for hidden hearing loss.

Almost everyone struggles to understand a speaker when background noise is close by, but most usually find it easy to hear when the noise is coming from somewhere else in the room. This is not so if you have hidden hearing loss.

Researchers theorise that hidden hearing loss may be due to irreversible damage to the connections between the cochlea’s hair cells and nerve cells, so sound information cannot get to the brain.

There is also some suggestion that the damage weakens binaural sensitivity, which we all need to be able to separate out noise coming from different locations at the same time.

The damage is caused by exposure to noise. Due to earbud and earphone use with personal listening devises It is predicted that hidden hearing loss will become more common.

If you are struggling to hear in everyday situations or suspect that you may have a hidden hearing loss, come talk to us at Audiology South.

Signs that you may have hidden hearing loss

  • You find it difficult to understand speech when it is noisy, but can hear soft sounds when it is quiet.
  • You can’t hear what people on TV say even if the volume is turned up.
  • You struggle in social situations or meetings when lots of people are talking.
  • Standard hearing tests say your results are fine, but you still struggle.

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