Tuning Into Hidden Hearing Loss Posted on December 16, 2021 by Advanced ENT & Allergy Imagine noticing that you’ve started to struggle to hear in certain situations. You find that you’re having trouble following conversations, especially when you’re out at The Little Hen or other restaurants or bars with lots of background noise. Eventually, it gets so bothersome you decide to have your hearing tested, but the results come back normal. What could be the explanation? The answer might be hidden hearing loss. What is Hidden Hearing Loss Hidden hearing loss is very similar to other types of hearing loss, except it does not show up on an audiogram, which is a graph of your pure-tone hearing test results. Sensorineural hearing loss, the kind associated with age and noise exposure, is caused by damage done to the hair cells of the inner ear. These cells help your brain detect sound. However, in a person with hidden hearing loss, their cells are undamaged. This is why they are found to have normal hearing on a pure-tone hearing test. In hidden hearing loss your auditory nerve fibers are damaged instead. This interferes with the connection between your brain and ears. Messages that get sent to the brain are incomplete, which makes comprehension of noises, and particularly speech, difficult. While it is unknown exactly how prevalent this condition is, a study looking at more than 100,000 patients complaining of hearing loss found that almost 10% had a normal audiogram. In these kinds of cases, it’s important for audiologists to conduct additional tests to help their patients figure out what’s going on. Other Hearing Tests If you are struggling to hear in your daily life, even though your pure-tone hearing test came back normal, your audiologist will likely perform additional evaluations. These tests include: A “speech in noise” test that evaluates your ability to separate speech from background noise. An auditory brainstem response (ABR) test. In an ABR test, your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of different intensities. Hearing Aids Can Help If you are found to have hidden hearing loss, your audiologist may recommend hearing aids. Hearing aids can help you focus in on the sounds you want to hear in louder environments. People who use hearing aids regularly report a higher degree of confidence in their ability to communicate with others as well as improved relationships with loved ones. If you believe you have hearing loss of any kind, make an appointment as soon as possible. It can be a frustrating and isolating experience to feel like you are missing out on the world around you. Contact Advanced ENT & Allergy today if you have additional questions or to schedule an appointment. How to Protect Your Hearing When You Live in a Big CityTips for Camping with Hearing LossHow Can I Protect My Hearing at Sporting Events?