Hearing loss, what does that mean?

Have you ever wondered what a hearing loss is like?  

For many people it is much easier to try to imagine a loss of vision but they cannot imagine what it is like to have a loss of hearing. Hearing loss is a very individual thing and varies from person to person as, of course, does a visual loss. 

Do you think a hearing loss just means that the volume of sound is turned down for a person? 

A hearing loss is a bit like having a jigsaw puzzle that has some of the pieces missing. Depending on how many pieces are missing, we can make out the picture because our brain fills in the blanks and completes, and makes sense of, the picture for us. Similiarly many people with a hearing loss will lip-read, filling in the blanks and try to make sense of what is being said.  However, unlike a jigsaw puzzle, we may not know there are any pieces missing from our hearing, because our brain get used to not hearing the missing sounds.  It is often the people around us who are aware there is a hearing loss before we do.

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). For example,

  • a fridge make a sound of 40 dB, 
  • normal conversation is approximately 60 dB, 
  • city traffic noise can be 85 dB. 

Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB can cause hearing loss.

It is also important to be aware of the distance from the source of sound and duration of exposure to it sound, avoiding noises which are too loud, last too long, or are too close. Having an awareness of which situations call for wearing sound protection and choosing the best noise protection for that environment is vital to your hearing health.

Watch this video to learn more about the ear -

How the ear works  

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