What Does it Mean to be Hard of Hearing?


If you’re hard of hearing, in the simplest of terms this means you cannot hear well. There is no universal definition for individuals who are hard of hearing; their hearing loss may range from mild to profound. Your audiologist in Simi Valley estimates some 48 million Americans are hard of hearing, making it a very common condition. Clinical terminology matters little; what’s most important is understanding the challenges those who are hard of hearing face on a daily basis as they go about their lives.

Types of Hearing Loss

Woman in Thousand Oaks living with hearing loss

There are three main types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the outer or middle ear; this may be the result of something as insignificant as impacted earwax or allergies, and is often treatable with medications or surgery. Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve deafness, occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. Disease, trauma, noise exposure, and aging can all cause sensorineural hearing loss. This condition is irreversible, but most patients can be helped with hearing aids. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both types and affects the outer and/or middle ear, as well as the inner ear. Treatment for this type will likely involve a combination of drugs, surgery, and hearing aids.

Living with Hearing Loss

Hard of hearing individuals in Simi Valley can enjoy a high quality of life without sacrificing too many of their favorite activities, but it can take a little while to adjust to living with hearing loss as the brain adapts to the impairment. It will compensate for your reduction in hearing by devoting more cognitive resources into processing sounds, but the mental energy required to do so can leave you feeling exhausted. The best thing you can do is seek medical treatment for your hearing loss as soon as possible.

For 90 percent of individuals who are hard of hearing, this means wearing hearing aids. If the very idea of hearing aids troubles you, your audiologist in Simi Valley will assure you that there are a wide variety of hearing aids available for different lifestyles, from sedentary to active. You’ll be able to choose a hearing aid that is not only suitable for your particular hearing loss, but appeals to your cosmetic preferences and fits within your budget. Today’s digital devices are smaller and more comfortable than those that were available just a decade or two ago, and technology improvements have led to sound that is much clearer. Feedback, wind noise, and other distracting sounds that plagued older units have been significantly reduced. Depending on the type of hearing aid you choose, it’s quite possible that nobody will even know you’re wearing one!

While hearing aids are a great help to those who are hard of hearing, it’s important to remember that they are not a cure. There are steps you can take to improve the effectiveness of your overall communication.

Communication Strategies

When you’re living with hearing loss, adopting certain strategies will greatly aid your communication efforts. The following tips should help tremendously:

  • Let the person you’re speaking with know you are hard of hearing.
  • Limit background noise by turning off the television, radio, and fan.
  • Face the person you are speaking with, especially if you rely on lip reading.
  • Ask for clarification if you do not understand something or missed a word.
  • Summarize what you think was said following the conversation in case the speaker wishes to emphasize or clarify something.

If you or a loved one is hard of hearing, your Simi Valley audiologist can provide additional tips on communicating effectively and living a quality life with hearing loss.

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