Approximately 37.5 million American adults report having trouble with their hearing. Identifying and treating this ever-growing condition is not only easy and painless, but improves the mental health, physical health, and quality of life of patients and their families drastically with simple intervention.
Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of hearing loss can help us identify when it is time to get tested, but it can be difficult to sense these things for ourselves. Listen to your friends and family when they hint that your hearing has deteriorated or that you are due for a hearing test, as it is likely that they will notice the signs when you may not.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
It can be very easy to ignore the signs and symptoms of hearing loss, especially in ourselves. Hearing often diminishes slowly over time, so it is easy to overlook. Here are some common signs that it may be time to schedule a hearing exam:
- Speech and sounds are muffled
- Difficulty in understanding speech, especially when other background noise is present
- Issues hearing consonants, like distinguishing Ns from Ms or Ts from Ps
- Often asking others to speak slower, clearer, or louder
- Constantly turning up the volume on the TV or radio
- Withdrawing from conversations
- Exhaustion after or avoiding certain social settings
- Difficulty hearing telephone conversations
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Headaches and/or fatigue
- Higher sound frequencies are more difficult to understand
- Others tell you that you are shouting or not speaking loud enough
What Can Cause Hearing Loss?
Some of us are more susceptible to hearing loss than others. Knowing if you are affected by any of these factors can also help us with diagnosis and treatment:
Genetics: Hearing loss can often be inherited from family members and worsen as we age.
Otosclerosis: A disease of the middle ear that hinders the movement of the tiny bones in our ear. These bones amplify the vibration of sounds so that they are easily sent to the inner ear, auditory nerve, then brain for processing.
Meniere’s disease: This ailment causes problems with the inner ear and typically affects people between 30 and 50. Symptoms like dizziness, ringing of the ears, and sensitivity to loud noises are common. Meniere’s disease causes hearing loss to come and go, but if left untreated over time, hearing loss can be permanent.
Autoimmune inner ear disease: Autoimmune diseases cause the body to attack itself and can cause rapid hearing loss. With early intervention, we are able to keep hearing loss to a minimum.
Ototoxic medications: Occasionally medications can affect hearing as well. Be aware that aminoglycoside antibiotics, large amounts of aspirin, loop diuretics, and some chemotherapy drugs have been linked to ototoxicity, as well as others.
Exposure to very loud noise: Some people can often be exposed to very loud noises which can cause permanent hearing loss. This is more common in people who have been in the military, demolition crews, and industrial workers.
Acoustic neuroma: An example of a tumor that can lead to hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and the feeling that the ears are full.
Physical head injury: Traumatic brain injuries, perforated eardrums, and damage to the middle ear can lead to hearing loss.
Next Steps if You Have Any of the Signs or Symptoms
Untreated hearing loss can lead to more serious health problems such as anxiety, heart disease, dementia, isolation, depression, and can cause damage to others hearing as well, especially youngsters. Scheduling a hearing exam as soon as possible can significantly minimize your risk for negative health effects and help in preventing further hearing loss. Hearing exams are quick and painless and should be a part of your annual health regimen.
What to Expect at a Hearing Test
During your hearing test, you can expect to have a friendly chat about your background and how you hear. Next, we will take a look at your ears to check for blockages and to make sure everything looks healthy, then it’s time for your hearing examination. This consists of wearing headphones and pressing a button and speaking to identify sounds and words.
Sometimes we might need to do an additional test that checks your acoustic reflexes involving a soft earplug along with pressure changes and various sounds. After your exam, we will go over your results one-on-one and suggest treatment options that may include a recommendation for a hearing aid.
The Benefits of Treatment
By treating hearing loss, 8 out of 10 hearing aids wearers have said that their quality of life has vastly improved. Hearing plays a critical role in our quality of life, affecting our emotional and physical health as well as our careers and hobbies.
Hearing aids today come in all shapes and sizes and are designed to fit around you and your lifestyle. New technology has made these devices smaller and more comfortable with wireless and fully user-controlled capabilities.
Hearing loss can happen to anyone, so it is always a good idea to have a hearing exam if you feel like you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms. The sooner that you can be diagnosed and treated, the sooner you can get back to enjoying your daily life.
Remember that you are never alone in your journey to healthy hearing. Our dedication to a “Family Level of Care” means that we are dedicated to making you feel not only relaxed and comfortable but secure in that you are receiving the best care possible. Contact us today to schedule your hearing exam.
Dr. Sally earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1991 and a Master of Arts degree in 1994 at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Doctor of Audiology degree in 2000 from the University of Florida. She became the first Doctor of Audiology in Midland and was among the first in the state when the requirements to practice Audiology changed from a Master’s Degree to a Doctorate. In 2011 she was recognized as Business Woman of the Year from the Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.