Say What? Identifying Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can emerge slowly, or else come on suddenly. If you have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people, think that other people sound muffled or like they’re mumbling, have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, or have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume, you may need to have your hearing checked by a professional.
According to WebMD, some signs of hearing loss include:
. Difficulty understanding people when they’re speaking. Sounds or voices may sound muffled.
. Needing to turn the volume on the TV higher. Do other people in your household often complain that you have the TV turned up too loud?
. Ringing, buzzing, or other noises in the ear.
. Avoidance of social situations because of difficulty understanding others. This can also lead to depression in some cases.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of possible hearing loss, it’s important to get checked by a doctor to determine what may be causing the hearing loss and what can be done to treat it. Talk with your doctor, he can help you find hearing professionals in your area. There are different hearing tests that may be performed and most can easily be performed in-office. The simplest test is a whispered test, in which the doctor stands behind you and whispers words while you cover one ear. This test checks to see if you are able to understand various volumes of speech, and the doctor will speak louder until you’re able to correctly repeat the words.
Another common test is called pulse tone audiometry. In this test, you will wear a pair of headphones and a series of tones will be played directly into your ears. These tones vary in pitch and volume, and you raise your hand to indicate which ear you hear the sound from. A tuning fork test is similar, but instead of using headphones, the doctor will strike a tuning fork to create tones near your ears.
Depending on what type of hearing loss the doctor suspects you may have, he or she may perform an auditory brain stem response test. In this test, electrodes are placed on your scalp and earlobes and then clicking noises are sent through earphones. The electrodes will measure your response to the noises.
No matter what tests your doctor performs, there is generally no discomfort involved. Hearing tests can be easily performed on anyone of any age without causing pain.
If a hearing test determines that you do have hearing loss, there are many advances in hearing aids to help you restore your normal life. There are two types of hearing aids: ones worn inside the ear and those worn behind the ear. Hearing aids worn inside the ear are often so small that they aren’t noticeable by other people. They are made to custom fit the ear and are colored to match skin tone so that they become almost invisible.
Behind the ear hearing aids are composed of an outer piece that sits behind the earlobe with a tube that goes into the ear. These hearing aids can also be made to blend in and be less noticeable by using colors that match skin tone or hair color.
Today’s hearing aids include many advances in technology, including Bluetooth capabilities that can allow you to transmit your favorite music or telephone calls directly into your hearing aid. Many styles are so small that most people may not even realize you’re wearing one, allowing you to enjoy your normal life without worry.