According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), blindness and deafness are the two most common sensory impairments. As our surrounding environment becomes more and more noisy, hearing loss or impairment has been gradually rising. In its 2011 study Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) found that more than 10 million people have some degree of hearing loss (in the UK) and this number is set to rise to 14.5 million by the year 2031. Hearing impairment is, in fact, a major public health issue in the country.
Grades of Hearing Impairment
Hearing impairment can be broadly classified into hearing loss and deafness. Any decrease in hearing sensitivity of any level is called as hearing loss, while profound or total loss of hearing in both the ears is classified as deafness. The WHO grades hearing impairment on a scale of 0 to 4 (according to the hearing threshold in the better ear), as follows:
- No (or very slight) impairment i.e. person is able to hear a whispered voice
- Slight impairment, where person is able to hear words spoken in a normal voice at a distance of 1 metre
- Moderate impairment, where person is able to hear words spoken in a raised voice at a distance of 1 metre
- Severe impairment i.e. the person is able to hear some words when shouted into the better ear
- Profound impairment (including deafness), where person is unable to hear even a shouted voice
Grades 2 through 4 are classified as disabling hearing impairment by WHO. For each grade (barring 0), WHO recommends certain corrective actions:
- Counselling is recommended and hearing aids may also be needed, depending on the results of a hearing test
- Hearing aids are recommended
- Hearing aids are needed. In the absence of availability of hearing aids, lip-reading and sign language should be taught
- Hearing aids may help in understanding words but lip-reading and sign language are essential. Additional rehabilitation may also be needed.
What You Can Do
According to WHO, 50% of causes for hearing impairment are preventable, especially those leading to Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). If you live or work in a noisy environment, make sure that you protect your hearing. Earplugs, earmuffs and custom hearing protection are all options that you can consider, depending upon the noise conditions that you are subjected to.
Deterioration in hearing is a gradual process and you many not even notice it. Hence regular hearing tests are absolutely essential, especially as you age. Book an appointment at Leightons Hearing Care for your free hearing test. Our trained audiologists will carry out a comprehensive examination of your hearing and evaluate your hearing ability. You can also choose to schedule an appointment at your home.
In case any hearing impairment is detected, we will guide you in choosing the hearing aids that best suit your requirement and lifestyle. We have a wide range of hearing aids from leading brands such as Oticon, Phonak, ReSound, Siemens and Widex. You can compare different brands and hearing aid styles before making your choice. We also offer a free hearing aid demonstration. Call us on 0800 40 20 20 and speak to our Hearing Care experts.