Our ability to communicate is heavily influenced by our ability to distinguish individual sounds. As your hearing capability is reduced, so are the frequencies or pitch ranges that you can detect. The sounds of speech are associated with a particular frequency ranges and patterns. If you lose the ability to detect that range, sounds using those frequencies are distorted and become harder to identify. Eventually, the brain adjusts to this loss, and can change the way you form words. The effect of hearing loss on a person depends, in large part, to when the hearing loss occurred.
Adults with Hearing Loss
Children who suffer prelingual deafness, or a loss of hearing before they learn to talk or understand speech, will have difficulty developing verbal communication skills. The areas of the brain that handle communication may form more slowly or differently. However, those whose hearing diminishes after speech develops face different challenges, though not always less difficult. Adults who lose their hearing often do so gradually and feel a loss in their ability to interact with the world. Depression is common as they begin to feel more isolated.
Levels of Deafness
There are four levels of hearing loss and deafness that directly affect speech:
- Mild deafness or hearing impairment – Soft sounds below 25 and 29 decibels (dBHL) are not detectable. Words are hard to understand, especially when there is background noise. Soft speech in often inaudible.
- Moderate deafness or hearing impairment – Sounds below 40 to 69 dBHL are inaudible. Following conversations without a hearing aid is very difficult. Children without hearing aids do not develop normal speech and language.
- Severe deafness – Only sounds above 70 – 89 dBHL may be heard. Lip-reading or sign language must be employed in order to communicate, even with a hearing aid.
- Profound deafness – No sounds below 90 dBHL, or none at all, can be heard. A person with profound deafness must use lip-reading, sign language, and/or writing to communicate.
What Can Be Done?
Treatment for hearing loss can include hearing aids (behind-the-ear, in-the-canal, completely-in-canal, and bone conduction), and cochlear implants (thin electrodes inserted into the cochlea). More severe hearing loss may require learning lip-reading and sign language.
Contact Us To Find The Right Option For You
We are hearing aid specialists. We can evaluate your hearing difficulties and provide the right services to fit your specific needs. Contact your nearest location today for a free evaluation and let us help you better connect with those around you.