If you’ve noticed that it’s getting harder to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant, or the volume on the television never seems quite loud enough, you’re not alone.

With an estimated 3.6 million Australians currently living with hearing loss (Hearing Care Industry Association, 2017), it’s more important than ever to keep on top of your hearing health.

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One of the most common questions Hear and Say Head of Audiology, Julie Decker said she was asked by clients was what steps they could take to improve their hearing, or how to stop an already noticeable hearing loss from worsening.

“The good news is that hearing loss can be preventable and treatable – depending on the severity and cause,” said Julie.

“For example, sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to damage of the tiny hair cells in the inner ear [cochlea], or when the hearing pathways [nerves] to your brain aren’t properly functioning, is the most common type of hearing loss and is permanent. However, with the right hearing technology such as hearing aids, we can work to optimise and protect the hearing someone still has, and prevent any further damage.

“If you are diagnosed with a conductive hearing loss – when there is an issue with the middle and/or outer ear – this could be a temporary or permanent loss. Depending on the cause, conductive hearing loss can sometimes be improved with surgery, such as a procedure called a tympanoplasty which repairs a perforation of the tympanic membrane, or with hearing aids.”

Regardless of what type of hearing loss you have, acting early and seeking specialist support is vital to ensure you are not letting your hearing loss limit your life, or have it result in you withdrawing from your friends and family.

Julie also noted that for people who had already been fitted with hearing aids, working towards wearing them during all waking hours was key.

“It’s always a shame when we hear from people that in the past their hearing aids have spent more time on their bedside table than in their ears, because our brains are wired to ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to hearing. We encourage the importance of consistent, daily use for all waking hours, to keep those hearing pathways in your brain active and stimulated.”

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