What is Residual Hearing and Why Does it Matter?

What is Residual Hearing and Why Does it Matter?

One of the things a reliable hearing exam and ensuing results will tell you is the amount of hearing you still have available. That’s an important ratio to consider because while it’s completely natural to mourn the hearing you may have lost over time, the hearing levels you retain is called residual hearing and it’s an important measure in your quality of life. 

If you take steps to preserve the hearing you still have, you will slow down the course of your hearing loss, which will make it easier for treatments such as hearing aids to perform to the best of their capabilities.

How Does Hearing Loss Work? 

There are two types of hearing loss, sensorineural and conductive. In the case of conductive hearing loss, the cause is typically an obstruction in the ear’s pathway, like a bony growth or most commonly, ear wax. In a majority of cases, hearing is restored when the obstruction is removed.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. The most likely causes are aging and exposure to excessive noise, which result in a progressive and incurable condition of hearing loss. 

Confronting Hearing Loss

Identifying and confronting hearing loss is a courageous and life-changing step. The early symptoms of hearing loss, usually interfering with your ability to understand speech clearly, are subtle and hard to self-diagnose. 

People are hesitant to face their hearing loss for a variety of factors. Some of the most common obstacles are a fear of getting older (or feeling old), confusion about next steps and treatment options, and the expenses related to treatment. Only a small percentage of people who are estimated to benefit from intervention like hearing aids choose to do so.

Part of the reluctance to treat age-related and noise-induced hearing loss stems from focusing on the hearing health that is already lost. It can seem as an insurmountable obstacle. In fact, the hearing that you have left plays an important role in treatment. 

Why Residual Hearing Matters

The hearing ability that remains after encountering age-relat we have left is called residual hearing and it’s responsible for many important parts of being able to live vibrantly with hearing loss! 

Residual hearing is what effectively enables hearing loss treatments to work by utilizing established pathways for sound information to make its way to the brain. The earlier you can begin treatment, and with as much residual hearing as potentially possible, the easier and more successful the process of transitioning to hearing aids will be.

Despite inroads made by progressive types of hearing loss, residual hearing plays a large role in helping us stay safe in many situations. Traffic noises and similar indicators can often still be heard clearly when residual hearing levels are protected. 

One of the ingredients of a vibrant life is our continued ability to enjoy the arts. Specifically, people’s residual hearing is what is responsible for the capacity to continue listening to music despite existing hearing loss. 

Protect Your Residual Hearing

It’s important to realize that though hearing loss has made listening more effortful, the hearing that is left is worth protecting and celebrating. While we can’t reverse the effects of time and age-related hearing loss, there are concrete steps to take that can mitigate future hearing loss as a result of noise exposure. 

Noise exposure accounts for a large percentage of cases of acquired hearing loss, particularly in younger people. There are simple steps to take that extend the hearing we do have. 

Watch volume levels

Keep volumes on entertainment sound at reasonable levels. A good rule to follow is the 60/60 rule, which states that volumes shouldn’t exceed 60 percent for more than 60 minutes. This is particularly important for people who are plugged into personal devices and headphones for large periods of time for work, school or socializing.

Monitor your sound environments

Notice when you are in loud environments like concerts, sports games or recreational activities. If something feels too loud then it probably is. Take breaks to give your ears a rest in a quieter place. Alternatively, investing in good-quality, custom ear protection can work wonders in reducing dangerous volumes. 

Schedule A Visit

If you’re wondering what residual hearing levels are available to you, make an appointment with our team today.