Hearing loss can refer to severe hearing loss, where loud safety signals may not be heard, or more commonly, it can manifest as subtle difficulty with word understanding. In these cases, certain voices or conversations are difficult to hear clearly, especially in noise. Hearing loss affects 1 in 10 people and 1 in 3 if you are over the age of 65 (NIDCD).
Communication abilities as well as quality of life can be significantly compromised for people with hearing loss and their families.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Common signs of hearing loss may include but are not limited to:
- Turning TV or radio up louder then previously
- Find you are missing parts of conversations while in a group setting
- You can hear but can’t always clearly understand all the words spoken
- Asking people to repeat what they say
- Perception of persons mumbling or sounding muffled, especially females and/or children
- Difficulty hearing speech in background noise
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hearing Loss
The diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss begins with a comprehensive hearing test to determine the amount of hearing in each ear. A visit to a professional who specializes in hearing testing and hearing aids or cochlear implants is typically the first step in the evaluation and treatment of hearing loss.
Audiologists have master’s or doctorate degrees in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing loss. Some audiologists specialize in hearing instruments; others may specialize in cochlear implants, tinnitus, pediatric audiology, educational audiology, hearing conservation, or other areas of audiology. Some may have several areas of specialty. In addition to treating hearing loss through hearing aids, audiologists identify and refer any conditions that require treatment by an otolaryngologist or ENT (ear, nose and throat) physician. The physician will often use the hearing test results to assist in diagnosing and treating ear conditions.
Hearing Instrument Specialists are trained to perform hearing evaluations and dispense hearing aids. They abide by state licensure laws for hearing aid dispensing, and may also hold board certification. They are also trained to refer to physicians for treatable ear conditions.
Get Started Today
Visit a hearing center near you for a full hearing evaluation. Based on the results, they will make recommendations for your hearing loss.
To learn more about hearing loss and treatment options such as hearing aids, visit Healthy Hearing’s Free Consumer Guides section to receive free comprehensive guides on hearing loss, hearing aids, cochlear implants and hearing aid funding resources.