Hearing loss can be an alarming problem, but it’s an issue that many people face, particularly as they get older. According to the Mayo Clinic, about one-third of people between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss and for those over 75, that number rises to 1 in 2. Not being able to hear properly can put a strain on your relationships and affect your ability to enjoy your life. It’s important to seek out hearing aid services if you notice signs that your hearing is not what it used to be.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
The human ear consists of three major parts–the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Hearing loss can be conductive (involving the outer or middle ear), sensorineural (involving the inner ear), or mixed, which is a combination of the two. The structures of the inner ear deteriorate over time, making advanced age the biggest risk factor for hearing loss. Exposure to continuous loud noises over time can also cause hearing loss. Having worked in a field with dangerous noise levels, such as construction, farming, factory work, or the military, puts you at a higher risk of hearing loss. Musicians, both professional and amateur, are also at risk for noise-related higher loss.
Hearing loss can be hereditary, so you are more likely to experience it as you age if you have a family history. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes can contribute to hearing loss because they affect the blood supply to the ears. Certain medications including antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, aspirin, malaria drugs, loop diuretics, and erectile dysfunction drugs, can all have an impact on hearing. Trauma to the skull, infections, and illnesses that cause high fevers can also cause damage to the ears.
5 Signs of Hearing Loss
Doctors categorize hearing loss as mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Mild hearing loss means that a person has difficulty hearing if there is a lot of background noise. Moderate hearing loss means struggling during one-on-one conversations. Severe hearing loss necessitates the use of hearing aids. Profound hearing loss is the almost complete loss of your ability to hear. Because most hearing loss occurs gradually, it can be difficult to notice. Here are five signs that you may have hearing loss:
1. Children’s and women’s voices are unclear. Because women and children have higher-pitched voices, people experiencing hearing loss, especially sensorineural (inner ear) hearing loss, can find them difficult to understand. Not being able to hear birds chirping, the car’s turn signal or the beeping of microwaves and timers are additional signs that you are experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Avoiding noisy places. If you have hearing loss, the low-pitched background noises in places like stores and restaurants can make it harder for you to follow a conversation. It can be particularly difficult to hear words that start with s, sh, f, v, th, f, or p.
3. Being tired after socializing. When you can’t hear well, it takes a great deal of focus to follow a conversation, especially when more than one person is talking. This can lead to feeling exhausted after social events like family dinners and birthday parties. You may also notice that you look at people’s mouths when they are talking instead of making eye contact.
4. Changes in your hearing. Some people with hearing loss experience tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Feeling pain or pressure in one or both ears is a concerning symptom. Favoring one ear over the other and having trouble telling where sounds are coming from are additional signs of hearing loss. Tinnitus, ear pain, and changes in your hearing are all signs that you need to be checked by a healthcare professional.
5. Other people notice. Often spouses or other family members are the first to detect subtle hearing loss. Do other people complain that you have the television or radio volume up too loud? Do you have difficulty hearing people on the phone? Do friends and family members frequently have to repeat themselves to you? These can all be signs that you need to get your hearing checked.
Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss in children can present differently than hearing loss in adults. Newborns are screened for hearing loss shortly after birth. Parents often notice signs of hearing difficulties in their children if the issue was not detected by this screening. Symptoms of hearing loss in children can include delays in speech and language, the child not reacting when a loud noise occurs, poor performance in school, behavioral issues at home and in school, and a diagnosis of a learning disability. If you think your child may be having difficulty hearing, contact an audiologist for a hearing test.
Seeking Help is Easy and Convenient
Numerous free online hearing tests can help you determine if you need to seek professional help. Finding one is as simple as typing “Free Online Hearing Test” into Google. You can take an online hearing test from your laptop, desktop computer, or even your phone, as long as you have headphones. These tests normally take about five minutes and ask you to identify ordinary sounds or listen to a conversation with noise in the background. The majority of the tests are in a multiple-choice format.
Failing an online hearing test is a sure sign that you need to seek professional help, but everyone can benefit from routine hearing tests. If you are older than fifty-five, spend time in loud environments, or if you have noticed signs of hearing loss in yourself or your child, it is important to get a hearing test. Not being able to hear properly can lead to difficulty learning, problems in your relationships, and feelings of depression. A majority of people with hearing loss can achieve normal hearing through hearing aids. Technologic advancements mean that hearing aids are more comfortable and less visible than they have ever been before. Caring, professional hearing aid services are just a click away.