What are some warning signs of a hearing loss? What should I do if I notice these signs?
By, Emily Steffel, AuD
There are many aspects of a person’s life that may be affected by potential hearing loss. Some common warning signs of possible hearing loss include increased difficulty hearing in noise. Do you seem to have more difficulty understanding other people when out at restaurants or at parties with many people around? Another sign is avoidance of situations. Have you begun making excuses to not do things you used to enjoy because trying to communicate in that environment is too overwhelming? Additionally, a frequent need for repetition can also be a concern. If your go-to automatic response is “huh?” or “what?” you may have a hearing loss.
A louder-than-usual or softer-than-usual speaking voice can also be a sign of hearing difficulty. We use our hearing to monitor the volume of our own voice and try to match it to those around us; when we don’t hear ourselves properly this task becomes difficult to do, resulting in volume errors. Lastly, do people seem to find your responses to their questions or statements funny or inappropriate? If so, you may have misunderstood what they said due to difficulty hearing or understanding speech or may have resorted to the common trait of “just smile and nod” because you have lost track of the conversation.
If any of these signs sound familiar, then it is important to talk to your primary care doctor and to set up an appointment with an audiologist to have your hearing tested. Your insurance may require a referral from your doctor, so it is important to notify your doctor of your concerns. Additionally, your doctor should look in your ears to ensure that they are clear of ear wax buildup. Not only can ear wax blockages cause difficulty hearing in day-to-day life, it can also cause any hearing evaluation testing to be inaccurate, so it is very important to have clear ears prior to being seen by an audiologist.
Overall, having hearing loss is very common and, untreated, it can affect many aspects of your life. If you have any concerns, have your hearing checked by your local audiologist.