Five Signs It’s Time to Have Your Hearing Checked
Most people are surprised to find out that the third most common health problem in the United States is hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), almost 48 million Americans have some form of diminished or hearing loss. If you are a regular reader of this space, you already know that May is annually recognized as Better Hearing and Speech Month to raise awareness around how hearing loss can impact your quality of life and recognize the thousands of healthcare professionals who have chosen a career as an Audiologist, or Speech-Language Pathologist.
To continue on with our Better Hearing and Speech Month content, let’s examine Five Signs of Hearing Loss that should prompt you to visit your local Audiologist for an evaluation.
Difficulty in Conversation. One of the obvious symptoms is an actual hearing loss, yet this is sometimes one that isn’t initially noticed by the person experiencing the condition. If your loved ones question why you have the TV turned up so loud, it may be an indicator. Or you may notice that you are having trouble following conversations when there are more than two people involved. Do you ever notice that it is harder for you to hear children or women speaking or you catch yourself asking others to repeat themselves? These are common early indicators of diminished hearing.
Ocean Waves and Bells. Another sign of a hearing issue is the onset of tinnitus, a condition where sounds like the roaring of waves, buzzing, or ringing bells are heard without an external source or explanation. These sounds are often attributed as a side effect of certain medications, ear infection, or obstructed blood vessels near the ear.
Withdrawal from Social Settings. An emotional sign of hearing loss that should prompt your visit to a hearing specialist is if you have found that you are not as comfortable partaking in social settings because off difficulty hearing and understanding others. Are you finding yourself to be embarrassed when meeting new people or feeling stressed about meeting new people because of fear that you won’t understand or hear what is being said? Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional health.
Dizziness and Balance. Another condition that may be connected to hearing loss is a gradual loss of balance or dizziness. The inner ear is the balance center of the human body, and anytime you are experiencing dizziness and unexplained balance issues, your inner ear is a prime suspect. If you are experiencing prolonged dizziness or find that you are not as steady on your feet, a trip to a hearing specialist may be in order.
Right or Left. When someone is experiencing hearing loss, there is no guarantee that it will begin presenting in both the right and left ears at the same time. Often, the first indication that you have a hearing problem is that you find you can hear better on one side or the other. When on your cell phone, can you hear just as well on both sides? Or do you always have to hold your phone up to one or the other? If this is the case, you have an indication that the weaker hearing side needs to be checked out.
Unless you experience sudden hearing loss, none of these symptoms alone will prompt you to see a hearing professional. Typically, two or more of these circumstances are needed to initiate that first visit. Discuss any hearing-related symptoms you may have with your doctor and determine if a referral to a specialist is in order. ASHA has a link to help you find certified Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists here.