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How Do I Know If I'm Losing My Hearing?

By Jon McKenna
Medically Reviewed by Lilach Saperstein, AuD on February 10, 2021
These are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss, frequent causes, and tests your doctor will use.

Just because you need people to repeat themselves lately doesn’t necessarily mean you are losing your hearing. You should remain calm, learn the facts about hearing loss and consult a medical professional. 

Signs of Hearing Loss

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain signs and symptoms should lead you to consult a specialist called an audiologist over your possible hearing loss. Signs of hearing loss include:

  • Hearing speech and other sounds as muffled
  • Having difficulty understanding words in crowds and other noisy settings
  • Having trouble distinguishing consonant sounds
  • Finding yourself asking others to talk more slowly, clearly or loudly
  • Needing to turn up the TV or radio volume frequently
  • Choosing to just avoid conversations
  • Finding yourself avoiding social settings because of hearing issues

What might be causing your hearing difficulties? The most common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Age
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Fluid buildup in your middle ear from a cold or allergy
  • Ear wax and shed skin cells blocking your ear canal
  • Otosclerosis, a disease that results in abnormal bone growth in your middle ear that keeps small bones from properly vibrating to allow hearing
  • Reactions to some medications, including erectile dysfunction medications, pain relievers, chemotherapy and antimalarial drugs
  • Benign tumors

An audiologist will examine you and conduct several tests to evaluate your hearing to verify whether you really have hearing loss and, if so, whether it is a chronic condition or triggered by a condition that will go away. Hearing loss tests your audiologist will use may involve:

  1. Tuning forks. In a Weber hearing loss test, a specialist will strike tuning forks of different frequencies and place them at the middle of your forehead, Wafaa Kaf, MD, an audiologist at Missouri State University, tells WebMD Connect to Care. In a Rinne hearing loss test, Kaf says, tuning forks are placed against the mastoid bones behind your ears until you can no longer hear sound, then moved to just outside the ear canal opening.
  2. An audiogram. This is a graph that shows how well you hear at different volumes and frequencies (how high- or low-pitched a sound is).
  3. A tympanometry. Here, your specialist is measuring the stiffness of your eardrum, which affects how well your middle ear functions.

Hearing Loss Can Be Treated and Managed.

In many cases, hearing loss is a treatable condition. It is worth taking the time out to get the answers and treatment you or your loved one deserves. Don’t wait. Start today.