Hear it out! The conventional clinical hearing tests may not be able to rectify this common form of inner ear ailment affecting many. The traditional tests can most of the times not diagnose the cause of problems like hearing speech in a noisy room. The condition often goes unnoticed due in the regular tests and may call for nuanced behavorial tests as per a new study.
According to study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, this form of ‘hidden hearing loss’, may go unrecognized , and present itself as normal in the hearing clinic, where the test is conducted in the silent room, not noisy or chatty one, where this hearing loss manifests greatly.
The reason posited for the inadequacy on the part of the traditional tests to recognize this form of hearing loss, is that hearing isn’t just the function of ear but a complex partnership between ear and the brain.
Our brain has ways to regulate noises. The central auditory system can compensate for the damage to the inner ear by turning up its volume control, thereby only partially overcoming the deficiency, which comes to its stark colours in a noisy room.
The study’s lead author Richard Salvi, Director, Centre for Hearing and Deafness at University at Buffalo, New York, explains, “ You can have tremendous damage to inner hair cells in the ear that transmit information to the brain and still have a normal audiogram.” An audiogram is a graph showing the audible threshold for standardized frequencies as measured by an audiometer.
But Salvi highlighted the limitations of the audiogram and the premises in which the tests are held and , that people with this type of damage “have difficulty hearing in certain situations, like hearing speech in a noisy room. Their thresholds appear normal. So they’re sent home,”
He further noted that, that a typical ear damage reduces the auditory signals that goes to brain, which hampers our hearing ability. But the case is different here, because, “ the brain has a central gain control, like a radio, the listener can turn up the volume control to better hear a distant station”, Salvi added.
So if you or someone in your acquaintance has an issue in hearing or comprehending speeches in noisy room, don’t blame the loud noise solely there may be hear loss condition hidden in your inner ear.