three-ways-to-know-you-need-a-hearing-testA Friday night dinner with friends is a time for good food and great conversation--but if you have difficulty understanding what they’re saying, an engaging evening out becomes a frustrating challenge. If you consistently have trouble hearing when in groups or noisy environments, it may be time for a hearing test.

Hearing loss is incredibly common. One in five Americans has a hearing loss, and by the age of 65, that increases to one in three. Perhaps even more surprising is that it takes an average of seven years for someone to seek treatment for hearing loss.

Only a hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss. Here are three ways to know if you need a test.


Ask yourself the following questions---and be honest.

Don’t wait seven years to get help with your hearing problems! Truly consider that you may have a hearing problem, and consider the following:

  • Have you ever slept through your alarm clock because you couldn't hear it?
  • Do you have to turn up the volume on the television or car radio?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing on the phone?
  • Do you think others mumble?
  • How often do you have to ask others to repeat what they say?
  • How difficult is it to hear someone speaking when they're standing behind you?
  • Are you avoiding celebrations and holiday events because you're worried you won’t understand what's going on?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in restaurants or noisy environments such as parties, cafes or bars?

Consider your answers. If you answer yes to any of the questions, you should schedule an appointment with a licensed audiologist to discuss a hearing test. Don’t be in denial. You may be surprised to learn how much you’re missing.


Do you have any of the risk factors for hearing loss?

While there is no one cause for hearing loss, there are several different factors that contribute to its development, including:

Prolonged exposure to loud noise

Even just a few rock concerts at Cary amphitheater can cause damage to your hearing. Hearing protection is recommended for any sound above 80 decibels (dB). For comparison, normal conversational speech is around 60 dB, while rock concerts generally clock in around 110 dB. (Want to know more? We’ve compiled a list of common noises and their decibel levels.)

Excessive earwax

While earwax protects the ears, a buildup can cause hearing problems.

Aging

Hearing loss is the third leading health issue among older adults (Number one and two are heart disease and arthritis). 

Meniere's disease

This inner ear disorder causes severe dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.

Otosclerosis

In this disorder, bony growths form around tiny bones that are located in the inner ear.

Otitis Media (ear infections) 


Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)



Other people have told you that you have a hearing loss

Often, friends, family or coworkers will notice a hearing problem before you do. 

If they mention it, don’t take offense—realize they are only trying to help. It’s a good indicator that you need to schedule a hearing test.


What happens during a hearing test?

The first stop should be a trip to an ENT doctor at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat. An ENT can determine the cause of your hearing loss. It may simply be a part of aging or it could be due to a structural problem with the ear itself.

The ENT will examine your ears to see if there are any causes for hearing loss. These causes include inflammation, excessive earwax or an infection. He or she may also check to see if there are any problems with the structure of the ear. You may also be asked to listen to words spoken at various volumes, or use a tuning fork.

An audiologist may then conduct an audiometry test.
During this exam, the patient wears ear phones in a soundproof room. The audiologist presents a range of sounds to determine the type or degree of hearing loss.  For more information, visit our web page on hearing tests.

 

You have a hearing loss. What's next?

There are several hearing aid dealers in the Raleigh area, but they aren’t the best choice for those with a hearing loss. An audiologist is in a unique position to help you. One of the main differences between audiologists and hearing aid dealers is that audiologists must have a degree—often a master’s or a doctorate—and pass state and national exams. 

In addition, audiologists work closely with ear, nose and throat doctors, who can provide additional assistance to treat any structural problems or other issues that may be impacting your hearing. 

Audiologists are required to have more than 1,800 hours of clinical training before they graduate—meaning their expertise can help you find the best type of hearing aid to fit your needs.

There have been several technological hearing aid advancements. Not only can they utilize Bluetooth technology, but some hearing aids are bone-anchored, sending signals directly to the brain and bypassing the inner ear.

Need more information? Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.



Sources:

Hearing Loss Association of America. “Do You Have a Hearing Loss?” Hearing Loss Fact Sheet. Online.

Hearing Loss Association of America. “Hearing Loss Facts and Statistics.” Online. 

National Institute of Health / Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. “Menieres Disease.” Online.   

The Mayo Clinic. “Hearing Loss Basics: Test and Diagnosis.” Online.