Do You Think You Have a Hearing Loss?
If you or someone you know might have a hearing loss, you are not alone. Statistics tell us that it takes the average person seven years from the time they think they have a hearing loss until the time they seek treatment. Don’t be a statistic. Seek treatment for your hearing loss.
Do you have any of these symptoms? Do you…
- Ask people to repeat what they say
- Have trouble following the conversation in groups
- Think others are mumbling
- Frequently turn up the volume on the TV or car radio
- Have difficulty on the phone
- Oversleep because you didn’t hear your alarm clock
- Have difficulty hearing or understanding speech at the movies
- Avoid going to noisy parties and restaurants
Think about these situations:
- Are you embarrassed to talk openly about not being able to hear?
- Are you cutting out activities that you used to love but have become painful because you cannot join in fully anymore?
- Are you afraid to reveal your hearing loss at work in case it jeopardizes your job?
- Are you bluffing when out with friends in noisy restaurants?
- Are you feeling cut off from your young children because you cannot hear their high-pitched voices?
- Are family holidays a strain because so many people are talking at once?
These are common reactions and can lead to withdrawal from social interaction, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and even depression.
“I can hear but can’t understand.” Other Things to Consider
For most adults, the onset and progression of a hearing loss extends over some time. One’s family and friends are likely to be the first to notice some difficulty hearing, long before the person does.
People will not be aware of what they don’t hear (like the sounds of birds, the beep of the microwave). They will be aware that they do not understand speech, as when they say, “I can hear but can’t understand.”
The person with hearing loss will notice difficulty in understanding when someone talks from another room.
Probably, the major complaint of people with hearing loss is the difficulty they experience in comprehending speech in any kind of noisy place (restaurants, receptions, large family dinners, in the car, or on a plane).
Group conversations are particularly difficult, especially when there is great deal of cross-talk.
Family members frequently complain that the TV volume is set too high, leading to some family squabbles.
These increasing difficulties in hearing may produce conflict with family members, as the family insists on getting help and the person with hearing loss is reluctant to recognize the reality. This stage may last for seven or more years before the hearing loss and ongoing subsequent issues are acknowledged and help is sought.
For children who are hard of hearing, the situation is different. Parents should be on the lookout for delayed or aberrant speech and language development, apparent inattention, and poor school work. Hearing screenings in classrooms are necessary, but not mandated in all states. Ask your pediatrician to do a hearing screening at the annual check-up. Go to our Parents Community.
The bottom line is – if you think you (or your child) is having difficulty hearing, have your hearing checked by an audiologist. Go to Find the Professional to find an audiologist in your area.
Diagnosing Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is diagnosed based on the person’s history, behavior, and the results of an audiological examination. If you are told that nothing can be done about your hearing loss, you should seek a second opinion.
What should I do if I think I have a hearing loss?
See an audiologist for a complete hearing test. You should consult an ear, nose throat specialist (ENT or otolaryngologist) if you are experiencing any of the following:
- History of pain, active drainage, or bleeding from an ear.
- Sudden onset or rapidly progressive hearing loss.
- Acute, chronic, or recurrent episodes of dizziness.
- Visualization of blood, pus, cerumen plug, foreign body, or other material in the ear canal.
Unilateral or asymmetric hearing loss
Also see “Do You Need a Hearing Test?”, a questionnaire (for adults 18 – 64) by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
What will I learn?
A full hearing test will tell you the degree and type of hearing loss and help determine if you could benefit from hearing aids. This will include an audiogram. The hearing health professional will recommend what type of hearing aid is best for your hearing loss.
Hearing Health Professionals
Types of Hearing Health Professionals
Otolaryngologist (ENT) (oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/gist) – a physician trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. For an otolaryngologist near you call the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at 703.836.4444 or visit AAO-HNS at entnet.org.
Audiologist – a health care professional qualified to do a thorough evaluation of your hearing. The audiologist can determine your type and degree of hearing loss and whether or not you can be helped by hearing aids and, if so, the best type of hearing aid for you. The audiologist will recommend a treatment program to assist you with your communication needs and, if indicated, may recommend a medical evaluation.
For more information or for an audiologist near you, call the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) at 800. 638.8255 or visit ASHA at www.asha.org; or call the American Academy of Audiology (the Academy) at 800.AAA.2336 or visit them at www.audiology.org.
Hearing instrument specialist – a professional certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (BC-HIS) and licensed or registered in all states. This specialist does an assessment, fits and dispenses hearing aids, and provides instruction in the use and care of hearing aids and related devices. For a hearing instrument specialist near you, call the International Hearing Society’s (IHS) Hearing Aid Helpline at 800.521.5247 or visit IHS at ihsinfo.org.
We also have a HLAA Professional Membership Directory [new link on Find a Professional page] of those professionals listed above who value HLAA and have chosen to join us.
There is a difference between hearing testing and hearing screening. Find out more from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Helping You Prepare & Live Well with Hearing Loss from the Ida Institute
HLAA is pleased to introduce you to materials developed by the Ida Institute in Denmark called Ida Telecare.
Ida Telecare is an engaging, online platform that offers persons with hearing loss easy-to-use tools and resources to help them prepare for appointments and successfully manage daily communication and important decisions related to hearing.
The first tool will help you prepare for your first appointment with the audiologist, thinking about the difficult listening situations, people you have a hard time communicating with and what steps you will take if your hearing test is positive.
You’ve had your hearing aids for a while and now you have made a follow-up appointment for adjustments and to talk about what other support or technology could be helpful.
Tools for everyday life will help you with communication strategies and identify how to resolve conflict in communication with others.
Have hearing aids been recommended for you? What questions do you need to ask in order to make an informed decision? A good place to start is with the HLAA publication Purchasing a Hearing Aid: A Consumer Checklist. Print it and take it with you to the audiologist or hearing instrument specialist.
Hearing aids are covered by some private insurance plans, company plans, the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, and Tricare, the plan for active and retired military and their families. Some plans cover hearing testing, but not the hearing aids. Medicaid covers hearing aids for children in some states, but it does not cover hearing aids for adults. For more information go to Financial Assistance.
See more about hearing aids in the Technology section.
Download HLAA brochure Do You Think You Have a Hearing Loss?