Millions of Americans experience hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs when a person ages as a result of age-related damage to sensory hair cells in the ears, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. A hearing aid can help you hear better, but you might not immediately recognize that you need a hearing aid. These signs of hearing loss can help you determine if a hearing aid is the right option for you.
Signs of Hearing Loss
“Hearing loss can be hardest on the people around you, so if your loved ones are getting frustrated with having to frequently repeat themselves, and/or because they notice you to be disconnected from conversation, it’s time to consider hearing aids,” Monika Sharma, AuD, an audiologist at Pacific Coast Hearing Care in Beverly Hills, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Angela Shoup, PhD, FAAA, FNAP, president of the American Academy of Audiology, tells WebMD Connect to Care that hearing loss often affects high frequency sounds first. High frequency hearing loss can make it more difficult to hear high-pitched sounds, including consonants like “Z” and “F” in speech.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends looking for these signs of hearing loss:
- Trouble understanding conversations, especially in loud or distracting environments.
- Certain sounds seem muffled or harder to hear.
- Trouble hearing people over the phone.
- Frequently turning up the volume on the TV or phone.
- Asking others to repeat themselves more often than usual.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Increased sensitivity to or pain in response to certain sounds.
Hearing Aid Evaluation
After seeing an audiologist and otolaryngolgoist for a full hearing test and medical clearance, you can discuss the options of hearing aids to see if they are right for you. An audiologist or otolaryngologist usually performs one or more of the following hearing tests, according to a 2020 peer-reviewed MedicineToday article:
- Weber hearing loss test: This test uses tuning forks to gently strike the forehead to determine if the hearing loss is worse on one side.
- Audiogram hearing test: This behavioral hearing test is conducted in a soundproof booth where you raise your hand or push a button to indicate when you have heard the sounds. The results are plotted on an audiogram to identify the frequencies at which you hear best.
- Rinne hearing test: This test also uses tuning forks, placing them against the mastoid bones behind the ear to determine the point at which you can no longer hear.
- Tympanometry test: This device tests the eardrum for stiffness, which can assess functioning in the middle ear.
- Otoacoustic emissions hearing loss test: This uses a tiny probe inside the ear to assess how well the microscopic hair cells inside the cochlear detect sound.
- Auditory brainstem response hearing loss test: This test uses electrodes on the head to see how well the ear and brain work together to interpret sound.
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