Posted October 15, 2015
Hearing conversations in noisy situations can be challenging. You may talk louder or stand closer to others in order to communicate and hear responses. If this doesn’t work, you also may try to read lips to fill in conversation gaps. However, if you rely on reading lips even in quiet settings, your hearing may be impaired. Here are four things about speechreading and hearing loss:
1. Understand speechreading – According to hearing experts, people with hearing impairment often engage in speechreading vs. lipreading. Only 40 percent of sounds in the English language can be read easily from lip movements. Many words have the lip movement pattern, such as pop, mop or bop. Instead people rely on speechreading, which involves connecting lip movements with facial expressions, gestures and surroundings.
2. Practice reading lips – People who read lips often hone their skills by watching themselves in the mirror while talking. They study the shape of their lips, especially for challenging word patterns. Hearing experts report that even saying hello involves five micro mouth movements.
3. Recognize types of hearing loss – Doctors classify hearing loss into three types:
- Conductive – Transmission of sounds through the ear are obstructed due to a build-up of fluid or ear wax, infection or ear drum damage.
- Sensorineural – Caused by damage to the tiny hairs in the ear, due to aging or extended exposure to loud noises or some prescription drugs, such as chemotherapy medications.
- Mixed – Caused by a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss.
4. Seek help – If your hearing is impaired, it’s normal to experience feelings of isolation and depression. Contact your doctor for a hearing evaluation and discuss treatment options. Hearing aids today are lightweight and smaller in design so they are less visible to others. Technology improvements also make it easier for wearers to tune out background noise.
Researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland are creating a new hearing aid equipped with a camera and lip-reading software. The camera is attached to eyeglasses, a necklace or earring to pick up visual cues, making it easier to read lips and understand conversations in a variety of settings.
Learn more about hearing loss by reading this article.