It’s all too easy to take our hearing for granted – we forget just how much we rely on it. Our ability to hear helps us make sense of the world around us. So when our hearing starts to fade, it has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. But what does it feel like to lose your hearing?
How can we understand what it’s like to suffer from hearing loss?
That’s exactly the question our video hopes to answer: what is it like to lose your hearing? The video, created in collaboration with the The Hearing Care Partnership and Sideways Productions, uses a specialist binaural microphone to tell the world what it’s like to experience the sensations and frustrations of hearing loss. To make the most of this video, we recommend you listen through headphones.
Our presenter, experienced audiologist Gemma Gray, and the team at Sideways Productions braved a cold December day in central London to bring hearing loss to life, helping us all understand what it’s like to lose our hearing.
The journey took them to some typically noisy locations, from a busy coffee shop and the bustling, traffic-filled hub of Piccadilly Circus to the more serene setting of Wandsworth Park.
Hearing loss isn’t a niche a problem
Far from it. It affects 11 million people each year in the UK, around one-sixth of the population. The causes of hearing loss are often age-related, and because we’re all living longer than ever before, hearing loss is a growing problem. By 2035, 15.6 million Brits will have some form of hearing loss, about one-fifth of the population.
Hearing loss means losing your quality of life
It’s easy to assume that hearing loss is only a problem when it causes total deafness, but that’s not true. Even the mildest of hearing losses can cause normal conversations hard to make out. Consonant sounds in particular can be lost into background noise. Partial hearing loss can seriously impair a sufferer’s quality of life, often causing them to stay away from social occasions and miss out on all-important interactions with friends and family.
The social and psychological impact of hearing loss is underlined by one simple statistic: that hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia by up to five times. But there is hope. Studies show that hearing aids can reduce this risk, and help hearing loss sufferers re-engage in social situations.
What causes hearing loss?
Presbycusis – also known as age-related hearing loss – becomes more of a risk as we age (71% of over-70s will experience some form of hearing loss). Hearing loss can also be caused by persistent exposure to loud noises, head injuries or viral infections such as mumps, measles or rubella, and diseases like meningitis and encephalitis.