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Two Components to Hearing

When people think of hearing and hearing loss, they tend to think of volume. If they can hear someone talking, they reason they do not have hearing loss. Actually, there are two components to hearing - hearing - or volume - and understanding. Here’s an easy way to think about this. If you are listening to the radio and the volume is too soft, you can turn the volume up and hear and understand everything. For some people, this is what their hearing loss is like. They need a hearing aid to turn everything up so they can hear and understand.

Now imagine that you are listening to the radio and it’s slightly off station- you get static and have difficulty understanding the words. If you tune the station in, you can understand better. You don’t need to adjust the volume, just the clarity. For some people, this is their hearing loss. They can hear that something is being spoken but they do not understand the words. These people come in saying they don’t have a hearing loss, people are just mumbling. For these patients, the hearing aid doesn’t need to bring in volume, the hearing aid needs to bring in the clarity of speech - or speech understanding.

A third kind of hearing loss occurs when the quality of speech cannot be improved. Imagine you are riding in your car listening to the Iowa-Iowa State game. The further you drive, the more you lose the radio signal and start to get static. If you turn the volume up, everything is louder, including the static. For some people, this is what their hearing loss is like, the quality of speech is not clear. These patients have poor speech understanding even with the help of hearing aids. For this group, hearing aids and an assistive listening device are usually recommended. This device might be a TV link, which allows the patient to use their hearing aids as a headset when watching TV, or a remote microphone, which is worn by the person speaking so that his/her voice is streamed directly into the patient’s hearing aids.

If you feel that you or a loved one fit into one of these categories, give us a call. We can evaluate your hearing, as well as your understanding ability, and determine the best possible solution for you!


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