An audiologist or clinician can administer a series of hearing tests to determine the type of hearing loss.
Sounds will be transmitted through headphones (air conduction) and through the skull (bone conduction) at different frequencies and volumes. The results are plotted on an audiogram, which shows the levels at which various frequencies are audible for each ear.
By the time hearing loss is diagnosed, the individual has lost 60% of his or her hearing range. Moreover, ten years typically pass between detection of hearing loss and treatment. Meanwhile, auditory brain circuits have had a decade of disuse. During this time, the brain has rewired itself, creating the symptoms of hearing loss so that simple amplification no longer works.
Hearing aids are not cheap and might require 6-8 adjustments to obtain maximum effectiveness and comfort. Hearing aids work best in quiet and one-on-one situations and less well in noisy environments. While hearing aids directly address damage in the ear, they won’t have an impact on pathological changes in the brain unless used early.
If hearing loss is diagnosed early enough, a hearing aid can help preserve what remains but even as hearing aids are improving, it’s important to have realistic expectations.
At present, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be cured, but a hearing device can help. For moderate hearing loss, there are different types of hearing aids and an audiologist can advise which is most suitable.
For the profoundly deaf, a cochlear implant may assist. This device transmits sound directly into the auditory nerve via electrodes surgically implanted into the cochlea. Recipients will need to learn how to integrate the electronic sounds produced by the implant with lip reading skills.
This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, please consult a suitably qualified healthcare professional.