When someone you love has difficulty hearing, you may wonder how you can help. Hearing loss is a common condition that affects nearly 48 million Americans, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Read on for more about the signs and diagnosis of hearing loss.
Signs Your Loved One May Have Hearing Loss
The signs of hearing loss may happen so slowly that they go unnoticed. In fact, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, people often wait an average of 7 years before getting help.
“For the majority of people, hearing loss is a gradual process,” Brad Ingrao, AuD, audiologist and Director of Audiology at Seattle’s Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“As the body ages, there is a section of the inner ear that loses flexibility and sensitivity. Over 4 or 5 years, it becomes harder to hear the difference between certain words,” Ingrao says.
But how can you tell if your loved one has hearing loss? According to Mayo Clinic, some of the most common symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Increasing the volume of the TV
- Frequently asking for words to be repeated
- Difficulty understanding someone when their face is not visible
- Experiencing increased difficulty following conversations when background noise is present
- Not paying attention to the conversation
- Answering the wrong question
It’s not uncommon for someone with hearing loss to feel frustrated, angry, or depressed. Hearing difficulties may require you to spend significant time concentrating in order to understand the speech of others.
“This struggle to fill in missing information can also make it appear that you have memory issues as it is very difficult to remember something you do not fully understand,” Angela Shoup, PhD, president of the American Academy of Audiology, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Hearing Loss Test
The first step in diagnosing hearing loss is an audiometer test. During this evaluation, the patient wears headphones which transmit sounds and words to each of their ears at varying pitches. Their audiologist will likely ask them to indicate when they hear the sounds or words.
The results are displayed in a graph format called an audiogram and will show the softest level at which the patient can hear a sound, according to Shoup. The audiologist will then use this information to make recommendations for treatment.
Treatment Options for Hearing Loss
Early diagnosis for hearing loss is important. Treatment early on can not only improve your hearing but can also improve your quality of life.
According to Mayo Clinic, depending on the range of hearing loss, treatment options may include:
- Devices like custom-fit hearing aids.
- Hearing implants like cochlear or bone conduction implants (surgically-implantable hearing devices).
- Surgical procedures to place tubes or treat eardrum abnormalities.
Hearing loss can be managed and treated.
The earlier you address the symptoms of hearing loss, the more likely you are to avoid irreversible damage. Get the answers you need to start treatment today.