Hearing loss is relatively common in the United States, where it affects about 15% of the population, reports the National Institutes of Health. Knowing the warning signs of hearing loss can help you determine whether it’s time to visit a hearing care specialist for a hearing test.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss occurs when any part of your ear or hearing system isn’t working as it should. It can affect your outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, or the auditory nerve that runs from your ear to your brain. The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound, defined as the ability to hear only very loud sounds and not any speech.
According to the CDC, there are four types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD).
Conductive hearing loss occurs when something prevents sounds from getting through the outer or middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the inner ear or hearing nerve. Mixed hearing loss is the combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. ANSD occurs when damage to the inner ear or hearing nerve prevents your brain from understanding sounds.
What Are the Warning Signs of Hearing Loss?
The best way to determine whether you have hearing loss is to have a hearing test. In the meantime, it may help to review these common warning signs of hearing loss.
- You can barely understand speech over the phone and may constantly ask people to repeat themselves.
- You constantly ask people to speak more loudly or slowly so you can hear them properly.
- You have difficulty hearing consonants and may ask people to enunciate more clearly.
- You may avoid conversations and social settings due to frustration or embarrassment related to hearing difficulties.
- You have problems understanding conversations in crowds and noisy places.
- Many sounds seem muffled, as though you’re underwater.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, like tea kettles and birds chirping.
- You hear a constant ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus).
- You’re always turning up the volume on the television or stereo and may even get complaints from neighbors and household members.
- Certain sounds cause you to experience physical ear or head pain or seem particularly bothersome.
- Your hearing loss greatly affects your quality of life or your ability to perform daily activities.
How Can You Notice Hearing Loss in a Friend or Family Member?
A friend or relative experiencing hearing loss will exhibit many of the same signs and symptoms listed above. Hearing loss usually develops gradually over time, especially if it is age-related. Sudden hearing loss, on the other hand, usually occurs due to injury.
If you notice that a friend or a family member has hearing problems, encourage them to make an appointment with a licensed hearing specialist for a hearing test.
What Should You Do if You Detect Hearing Loss
If you think you may be suffering from hearing loss, the best step you can take is to get a hearing test from a hearing care specialist.
A hearing care specialist can perform a series of hearing tests, including the Rinne test, Weber test, and tinnitus to determine the type and extent of your hearing loss. Then, the hearing care specialist or a hearing aid provider can review your audiogram, discuss your treatment options, and help you find the best hearing aids for you if needed.
Schedule Your Free In-Office Hearing Test at Beltone West
Beltone West offers a free hearing test to those who think they may have some degree of hearing loss. We have offices in Prescott, Carefree, and Scottsdale, and we will be more than happy to meet with you in person to check your hearing and discuss your options for hearing aids. Schedule your free in-office hearing test using our contact form.
Take an Online Hearing Test
Beltone West also offers an online hearing test. Our test is fast, easy, and convenient, and can be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Visit our Online Hearing Test page and follow the instructions to complete the test.
At Beltone West, we take pride in offering a wide range of the latest, state-of-the-art hearing aids, including Bluetooth hearing aids that maximize hearing ability. Take an online hearing test or schedule an appointment today and get one step closer to improving your hearing.