Hearing loss is defined as being unable to partially or completely hear sounds in one or both of your ears. Hearing loss typically begins after the age of 20 and occurs gradually over time.
By the time most people are at the age of 65, hearing loss tends to be quite significant. Early detection of hearing loss is important for starting a treatment plan as well as preventing further hearing loss.
The first step towards diagnosing hearing loss is recognizing that you are experiencing some of the signs and symptoms. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Speech sounding very muffled
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Frequently needing to turn up the volume for the radio or television
- Constantly asking other people to speak slower, clearer, and louder
- Difficulty with understanding certain words, especially when in a crowd of people or against another noisy background
- Avoidance of some social settings
- Withdrawal from conversations due to struggles with hearing
You should talk to your doctor if you begin to experience any of these symptoms and they are interfering with your daily life. However, if you suddenly lose hearing, especially in one ear, you should seek medical attention immediately as this could be a sign of a serious brain injury.
Preparing for Your Appointment
If your doctor suspects that you may have hearing loss, he or she will likely refer you to an audiologist, which is a doctor who specializes in hearing problems. There are some things you can do to prepare for this appointment in order to make sure that you get the most out of it and know what to expect from the doctor. These include:
- Write down a list of your symptoms: List all of the symptoms you are experiencing and note how long each symptom has been going on. Ask your family and friends for help with this, as they may have noticed some changes that you were not aware of.
- Write down a summary of your work history: It is important for your doctor to be aware of any jobs that may have exposed you to high levels of noise for an extended period of time and may have contributed to damage in your inner ear.
- Write down important medical information: If you have ever had any problems with your ears in the past, make sure you let your doctor about this. You will also need to list all medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking as well as any family history you may have with hearing problems.
- Write down any questions you have: If you have a list of questions in advance, this will help to make sure that nothing gets left out during the appointment.
- Bring a family member or friend with you: This will help you to best remember any information the doctor gives you. It is also good to have someone who knows you well, as they may have information for the doctor that is valuable too.