Talk to us about hearing loss

Hearing loss occurs in 1 in 6 people in Australia. With our ageing population and levels of noise exposure, by 2050 this is expected to rise to 1 in 4. Recent research shows that getting help early leads to much better outcomes and improved quality of life.
How do you know if you have hearing loss?

Some common symptoms:

  • People seem to be mumbling
  • You often seem to misunderstand what people are saying
  • You can hear, but not clearly
  • You need the TV up louder than other people do
  • You have great difficulty hearing in groups
  • You have great difficulty hearing if you go out to noisy places, such as a restaurant
  • You find that you have to concentrate very hard to hear, especially if outside noise is present
  • You find children’s voices difficult to understand
  • You have ringing or noises in your ears (tinnitus)
Damien McInerney

What happens when you get your hearing tested?

Assessment

The first step is to get an accurate measurement of your hearing. We do this by completing a hearing assessment through responding to a series of sounds; we also assess how well you can understand speech when outside noise is present.

After your assessment, we discuss the results with you and refer you to your doctor if medical intervention is required.

If hearing aids are likely to help you, we establish what you’re hearing needs are, and discuss the levels of hearing aid technology and hearing aid styles that are best suited to your needs.

If you decide to proceed with hearing aids:

Once you decide on the type of hearing aids you will be fitted with, we may take an impression of your ear so that the hearing aid can be made to fit. This is not painful; it involves putting some soft putty-like material into your ear which sets in less than five minutes and gives us the shape of your ear. Many hearing aids do not require impressions, as we use thin tubes and domes to couple them to your ears.

Your hearing aid is then ordered from the manufacturer.

The next step is a fitting appointment for your hearing aids to be programmed (according to a prescription) to match your hearing levels. We do various tests to ensure the programming is optimised for you. We discuss how to manage your hearing aids, including putting them in, changing/recharging batteries and cleaning. We discuss an appropriate listening program to allow you to adapt to your hearing aids and to get the most out of them.

Hearing Loss Causes

Conductive Hearing Loss

A conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the outer and/or middle ears. Conductive hearing loss may or may not be permanent. Often medical treatment or surgery can correct a conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids are very effective in aiding conductive hearing loss.

Some common causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Wax blockage
  • Middle ear fluid (common in young children but can also occur in adults, sometime referred to as ‘glue ear’)
  • Perforated eardrum (may be due to trauma or severe infection)
  • Otosclerosis (hereditary disease affecting the middle ear bones)

Sensorineural hearing loss

A sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss in usually permanent and cannot be corrected by surgery. Hearing aids are effective in aiding most sensorineural hearing losses.
Some common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • The ageing process
  • Noise exposure
  • Meniere’s disease (relatively common disease that can affect hearing and balance)
  • Head injuries

A mixed hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the outer and/or middle ear and the inner ear, that is, there is both a conductive and sensorineural hearing loss present.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the name given to ringing, hissing or noises in the ears and head that have no outside origin. Tinnitus is very common and experienced to varying degrees by up to 20% of the population.

It can be caused by:

  • Age related hearing loss
  • Noise exposure
  • Some prescription and non-prescription drugs
  • Excessive stress or trauma