477 million: that’s the number of people worldwide who live with hearing loss. Among people 75 and older, nearly half have hearing loss. These numbers make it clear that hearing loss is far from uncommon, and it can happen to anyone. So, if you think you might have hearing loss, what should you do?
Here are six simple steps you should take if you think you have hearing loss:
1) Know the signs.
While every person experiences hearing loss a little differently, there are common symptoms you can watch out for to know whether you may have hearing loss. Common signs of hearing loss include:
- Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
- Turning the TV or music to a volume that other people find loud
- Difficulty understanding conversation in noisy places
- Trouble hearing women’s and children’s voices
- Difficulty hearing on the phone
- Feeling like other people are frequently mumbling
- Ringing in the ears
- Avoiding social situations you once enjoyed
- Other people, such as your spouse, friends, or family members, telling you that you might have hearing loss
2) Have your hearing tested.
If you have noticed the signs of hearing loss, or if a loved one has suggested you might have hearing loss, the next step is to have your hearing tested. You can start with an online test (many online hearing tests are free), or you can go to a hearing health professional. The benefit of seeing a professional for a hearing test is they will be able to explain your results and what action should be taken.
3) Decide whether you want to treat your hearing loss.
If the results of your hearing test reveal that you do have hearing loss, it is time to decide what you’re going to do about it. You could ignore the problem, but this is not recommended. The effects of untreated hearing loss include social ones, like not hearing important information, feeling lonely when you cannot have conversations as you once did, mishearing conversations (especially in noisy environments), and feeling frustrated in social situations. Untreated hearing loss can also affect your overall health; those with untreated hearing loss are at a greater risk for depression, anxiety, falls, and dementia.
Treating your hearing loss, on the other hand, can lower your risk for all of these problems. It can also help you enjoy auditory experiences you may have forgotten about, like hearing the birds outside your window or the babbling sound of the little stream that runs alongside your favorite nature walk. You will also be able to understand conversations with your loved ones and feel comfortable and confident in social situations.
4) See a hearing professional.
If you did not see a hearing health professional for your hearing test, now is the time to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, hearing aid specialist, or ENT. The hearing professional will be able to determine how severe the hearing loss is and recommend the best treatment for your specific needs.
5) Ask to try hearing aids.
Hearing aids are a common and effective way to treat hearing loss. Did you know that most states require a 30- or 60-day trial period for hearing aids? This allows you enough time to try out your hearing aids and see how they are working for you. Your hearing professional will help you with any adjustments you need, and they can also recommend different hearing aids if you feel you didn’t get the right fit the first time.
Although over-the-counter hearing aids are now available, the best choice is often to get personalized ones from a hearing professional. With this option, your hearing professional can make certain that the hearing aids are tailored to your specific needs and preferences.
6) Enjoy hearing well.
Most people who try hearing aids report that they enjoy many activities so much more now—from listening to music to conversing with friends, and from hearing the sounds of nature to watching TV without turning the volume up to the max. In addition, you can rest assured that you have lowered your risk for the health problems associated with untreated hearing loss. Now, that’s something to celebrate!
If you would like more information or think you might have hearing loss, we invite you to contact our hearing practice today. We look forward to taking care of you.