Approximately 36 million American adults report some degree of hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss affects both adults and children. Hearing loss is invisible and often declines progressively and subtly. At first, sufferers might develop methods to help compensate for the loss, and they gradually adapt in ways that render them unaware of the sounds they are missing. Typically others will notice the hearing problem sooner than the person who actually has it. (Hint: If family members or co-workers mention you might have a hearing problem, you probably do!) Although hearing loss can occur at any age, it’s not uncommon for adult-onset hearing loss to be detectable by the fourth or fifth decade of life.
If you suspect you might have hearing loss, the most rationale approach is to “get the facts” and proceed from there. Some physician or primary care offices offer an informal hearing screening and, if a hearing loss is suspected, will refer the person to an Audiologist for a more accurate, in-depth diagnostic hearing evaluation. The majority of insurance plans allow “direct access” for a beneficiary to receive a diagnostic hearing exam by an Audiologist, however Medicare and a few other insurance plans may still require physician referral to the Audiologist. (Changes to this outdated Medicare requirement requires “an act of Congress!”)
Self-awareness of hearing loss can be deceptive when sounds are dulled (sensitivity is reduced) only in some pitches, but not in all. Perception of speech clarity gradually declines and is replaced by a common complaint of “I hear people talking, I just can’t make out what they are saying.” Another indicator is greater effort needed to hear certain voices (such as those of women and children.) Some types of hearing loss become more troublesome and noticeable primarily in certain situations (such as in rooms that have reverberation or where background noise is present.)
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine whether your hearing is up to par or needs attention. Do you:
- Frequently have to ask for repetition?
- Have trouble hearing when spoken to from another room?
- Feel that you hear sounds, but do not understand speech?
- Feel that people are mumbling?
- Have trouble hearing when there is noise around you?
- Need to turn the radio or TV volume up loud to hear well?
- Have difficulty hearing women’s or children’s voices?
- Have to turn one ear towards the person speaking?
- Have trouble hearing when you can’t see the speaker’s face?
- Need to be close to the person speaking?
- Become anxious or tired in social situations because you cannot understand what is being said?
- Have to strain to hear?
- Frequently misunderstand what is said?
- Have ringing or buzzing in your ear(s)?
- Have family members, co-workers or others told you they think you have a hearing problem?
If you think you may have a hearing loss, the smart thing to do is to take control and meet problem head on. Schedule an appointment for a diagnostic evaluation by an Audiologist. (Testing is painless, and doesn’t require any studying in advance.) Discussing your hearing health concerns with an Audiologist is the first step toward a world of better hearing! So find out the facts, and if you have a hearing loss, take steps to take care of it! The people who most care about you will be so glad you did!
Don’t let hearing problems get in the way of all that life has to offer. Schedule a diagnostic evaluation by calling 907.789.6780!