When was the last time you were in a crowded room, and you struggled to hear over the noise? It’s normal to have to ask people to repeat themselves now and then but when this becomes commonplace it can signal a larger issue. Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic conditions in the US, caused by exposure to loud noise, ototoxic chemicals, head injury, chronic ear infections, or even old age. It can go undiagnosed for years – so when do you know when to screen for it?
It is important to treat hearing loss as soon as you can because if ignored, it can develop into anxiety depression, distance in relationships, isolation, cognitive decline, and even increased risk of falls. The most common treatment is hearing aids which amplify the sounds you struggle with, making conversation have more ease and giving people a greater sense of confidence to deal with other health issues.
The issue is that hearing loss is not always easily self-diagnosed. It often starts subtly and progresses gradually over years. What may start as just the loss of certain tones can progress into the loss of whole words in sentences and frequencies of hearing loss. Often the most difficult part of treating hearing is knowing when it is time to screen for it. Evidence from the non-profit Action for Hearing Loss reports those who could benefit from hearing aids, only about 40% have and use them. On average people wait about a decade before they even seek a diagnosis for a hearing issue and a lot of negative side effects can progress during this time.
Know the Signs
When you know the early signs of hearing loss you can be more aware of when it is time to consider a hearing test for yourself or a loved one. It is often the people closest to you who notice that you have a hearing issue before you. This could be a significant other, family member, or even co-worker. If someone suggests that you may have a hearing issue, it’s always a good idea to take this seriously. Here are just a few tips to help you know when it’s time to schedule a hearing exam:
You Ask People to Repeat Themselves
This is one of the most common signs of hearing loss. Do you catch yourself asking – or wanting to ask “what did you say” all too often? It can feel embarrassing, and it can even be tempting to pretend to understand. However, pretending can amplify feelings of confusion and isolation in conversation. If you identify with this, it’s simple. Just schedule a hearing test and find out the extent of your hearing ability.
You Experience Ringing in Your Ears
Do you ever finally find yourself in quiet just to be confronted with an unescapable ringing in your ears? This phenomenon is called tinnitus – a phantom sound with no external source. It is very common, affecting approximately 15% of the world’s population. It is also a tell-tale sign of hearing loss. Tinnitus is often caused by damage to the inner ear due to loud noise when cells that send sound to the brain become damaged sending a sort of feedback to the brain which is registered as tinnitus symptoms. If you experience tinnitus even now and then, it’s a good idea to schedule a hearing test.
Struggle to Hear in Noisy Places
Is it hard for you to hear people amongst backgrounds noise? This is true for many people with and without hearing loss. However, hearing loss not only makes it difficult to hear but makes it challenging to prioritize sounds. Our brain can usually differentiate the sounds of a conversation over background music or nearby conversations, but with hearing loss, the brain is in emergency mode – struggling to string together words and sentences with missing information. If you are struggling to hear amongst noise it is always a good idea to schedule a hearing test.
Trouble Hearing the TV or Telephone
Do you find that no matter how loud you turn up your phone you still can’t hear? How about the TV? Do people complain it is too loud when it sounds just fine to you? These are common signs you might have a hearing issue. Often the hardest part is scheduling the test. Once you have a diagnosis, we can help you to find the best solution for you.