When Is a Hearing Loss a Hearing Loss?
There is a wealth of evidence that untreated hearing loss is a factor contributing to cognitive decline and dementia in adults. We’ve written about these and other problems that can develop when people don ‘t seek help for their hearing loss.
When is a loss “mild”?
Historically, clinicians and researchers have used the term mild hearing loss to describe hearing thresholds in the 25-40 decibel (dB HL) range. Hearing levels less than 25 dB HL are usually described as “within the normal range,” although the true range of normal hearing is 10 dB HL or better.
Many audiologists describe thresholds in the 16-25 dB HL range as minimal hearing loss. Recently, an investigation studied a large group of people with hearing in this range of minimal hearing loss. The researchers found a strong relationship between hearing and cognitive performance even for individuals with hearing in this range of minimal loss. Hearing at even these slightly reduced levels affected performance on several tests of mental function.
Help for hearing loss
These were studies of untreated hearing loss. There is clear evidence that getting help for hearing loss—almost always through the use of hearing aids—greatly reduces or eliminates the negative effects of hearing loss. Hearing aids improve social and family relationships, as well as academic, cognitive, and work performance. Most of all, hearing aids make life more enjoyable for you and your family and friends .