What Is Hidden Hearing Loss?

Hearing Test

Hearing loss is unique for each person. Some may experience problems hearing low frequencies. Others may experience problems with higher frequencies. Unfortunately, not everyone who has hearing loss will show signs of it during a hearing exam.

Hidden Hearing Loss and Its Symptoms

Hidden hearing loss is hearing loss that is not detectable by standard hearing tests. Instead of being an issue with the ear, hidden hearing loss is a problem with the nervous system. Those with hidden hearing loss will notice all or some of the following symptoms:

  • Not hearing people
  • Feeling distracted or unable to focus in noisy environments
  • Preference to converse in quiet settings
  • A strong sense of having hearing loss

What Causes Hidden Hearing Loss?

Ordinary hearing impairment is the result of damage to the hair cells or the nerves. Hidden hearing loss is a problem with the synapses,  the junction between the nerve cells . The auditory nerve, hair cells, and inner ear are all working great. When the auditory nerve goes to send signals over the synapses, they don’t get completed. This leaves the brain with missing information that we must have to interpret the words that we hear.

How to Test for Hidden Hearing Loss?

It’s crucial to realize that standard hearing exams only detect problems with the ear. They aren’t aimed at detecting problems with the nervous system. In fact, many people with hidden hearing loss will pass the pure-tone hearing test.

A common method for testing for hidden hearing loss is with a quick words-in-noise test. This involves listening to a specific sentence or word in different environments. These environmental sounds will get louder and louder. Some other common hearing exams to help diagnose this type of hearing impairment are:

  • Tympanometry
  • Otoscopy
  • Acoustic Reflexes
  • Auditory Brainstem Response Test
  • Air, Bone, and Speech Reception Testing
  • Extended High-Frequency Audiometry
  • Diagnostic Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions

How to Treat Hidden Hearing Loss?

Unfortunately, there is no one direct way to treat hidden hearing impairment. In some cases, hearing aids with modern speech-in-noise settings can be helpful. These use directional microphones to help pick up the signals that happen in front of you. Currently, medical professionals are working on medication to help grow new synapses.

Call Us Today

If you believe that you may have hidden hearing loss, it’s time to give our office a call. Our helpful hearing care professionals will be more than happy to perform a hearing exam for you. We can present the best hearing assistive devices to remedy your individual situation.