One in six Australians is affected by mild or greater hearing loss. Prevalence rates for hearing loss are associated with increasing age, rising from less than 1% for people aged younger than 15 years to three in every four-people aged over 70 years. With an ageing population, hearing loss is projected to increase to 1 in every 4 Australians by 2050.
The consequence of hearing loss is a reduced ability to communicate effectively. The ability to listen and respond to speaking is reduced and for some, the ability to speak is lost or impaired. Reduced communication abilities impact on a person’s lifestyle. Adverse health effects are associated with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Among Seniors
More than half the population aged between 60 and 70 have hearing loss. This increases to more than 70% of those over 70 years of the age and 80% of those over the age of 80 years. Men have a higher incidence of hearing loss than women. Because men are more exposed to noise in the workplace and during war service.
Hearing Loss Among Veterans
War veterans are likely to suffer from hearing problems due to hearing damage from noise exposure during war services. Hearing is the second most common medical condition reported by Australian war veterans and war widows, with 55% reporting hearing loss as a current medical condition.
Hearing Loss Among Rural Australians
Over half of Australian farmers are likely to suffer from premature hearing loss through occupational noise exposure from agricultural machines and using power tools. Almost all farmers over the age of 55 who have been exposed to loud noise suffer some degree of hearing loss. However, only 18 % of farmers wear hearing protection while working with heavy machinery and agricultural equipment.
Below is some information about the types of hearing loss and their treatment strategies
Conductive Hearing Loss
A conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a disruption of sound transmission through the outer and/or middle ear. Conductive hearing losses usually cause a reduction of loudness, often affecting the ability to hear faint sounds.
- Outer and middle ear infections
- Tympanic membrane (ear drum) perforations
- Malformation of the middle ear bones
- Absent or tiny ear canal
- Benign Tumors
- Medical and surgical intervention is often very successful in treating this type of hearing loss
- If medical management is not indicated, hearing aids are highly effective in improving hearing
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
A Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage or disease of the cochlea (inner ear organ) and/or hearing nerve that transmits sound to the brain. Unfortunately this type of hearing loss not only affects the loudness of sound but also affects the understanding of speech or clarity of speech in most cases.
- Noise exposure or trauma
- Head Injury
- Prescription drugs
- Inner ear disease
- Inner ear infections
- Medical or surgical intervention is not often successful in treating this type of hearing loss.
- Hearing conservation in the case of noise exposure
- Hearing aids especially 100% digital devices can be very effective in improving hearing sensitivity. Hearing aids does not improve hearing but it improves better understanding of speech sounds.
Central Hearing Loss
A central hearing loss referred to as a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is a problem that lies in the central nervous system within the brain. In this type of hearing loss, the individual although having normal peripheral (outer and inner ear) hearing, experience significant difficulty understanding conversation. This is especially apparent in groups of people or noisy environments due to the central nervous systems inability to filter competing auditory signals.