We will break this down to two sections :
Section A : What is hidden hearing loss?
Hidden hearing loss (HHL), a recently described auditory disorder, has been proposed to affect auditory neural processing and hearing acuity in subjects with normal audiometric thresholds, particularly in noisy environments. There are some people who have hidden hearing loss and the experience of this hearing loss cannot be diagnosed with a standard testing or the conventional testing. Hidden hearing loss is an umbrella term for any hearing loss that isn’t detectable by routine diagnostic testing. A hidden hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that cannot be measured by the most common hearing test. On suspicion of a hearing loss, the first step is to measure the hearing with an audiogram, but for people with hidden hearing loss, the audiogram looks as it does for someone with normal hearing. Also often when the ear is exposed to loud noises over time, synapses connecting hair cells with the neurons in the inner ear are lost. This loss of synapses has previously been shown as a mechanism leading to hidden hearing loss.
Hearing loss can include a number of different deficits, from peripheral auditory factors such as the common high-frequency sensory loss, which means high-pitched sounds are more difficult to hear, to central auditory issues with cognitive function (working memory or attention issues). High-frequency hearing loss can affect anyone of any age, but is more common in older adults with age-related hearing loss, as well as people exposed to loud noises.
Section B : What causes hidden hearing loss?
There are many factors which may contribute to non-typical hearing problems. While the condition is more common in older adults (over the age of 65), hidden hearing loss affects all ages and is dependent upon the underlying mechanism and cause. For example, young adults with a high noise exposure, experience it. In some cases, traumatic brain injuries may also cause hidden hearing loss.
People often talk about what about people with “Hidden Hearing Loss”, we will come to this as well in the latter part of our section, but first, lets know the symptoms.
Symptoms of hidden hearing loss :
A hidden hearing loss doesn’t normally affect a person’s ability to hear quiet sounds, but it makes it harder and sometimes difficult to hear sounds when there is competing background noise. That’s the symptom of a hidden hearing loss.
A hidden hearing loss cannot be measured with standard hearing tests or an online hearing test.
Hidden hearing loss could be significantly under-diagnosed. It is likely to affect younger people, who go to loud music concerts or spend time listening to loud music through headphones. People who have a hidden hearing loss when they are younger may suffer from more severe hearing loss when they get older.
So, what about people with “Hidden Hearing Loss”. They need to start with a traditional hearing test if you’re having trouble with your hearing. You’ll also participate in additional testing such as speech testing in noise, high frequency audiometry testing and completion of a self-reporting questionnaire like the Hearing Handicap Inventory. It is an estimate that between 5% and 10% of all patients who participate in testing at our audiology/ENT clinic have hidden loss. Several studies indicate that some patients with hidden hearing loss may see a mild improvement with open-fit hearing aids which are readily available at Best Hearing Clinics. There are also some communication strategies — and even some nifty technologies — that can reduce the impact of noise on listening and lessen further damage. Shut it out. If you’re going to be around loud sounds, protect your ears by wearing a noise-reducing device. Although research is underway to find medications that would prompt neurons to grow new synapses. In cases where there’s at least slight or mild hearing loss, people will benefit from state-of-the art hearing aids that have “speech in noise” settings.
At Best Hearing Clinics, we have some of the technological advanced hearing aids which not only help people with hearing disability, but also help them to lead a normal and healthy life.