I Think I Have Hearing Loss: Now What?Published On: June 19, 2019
Around the world, approximately 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Do you feel that your hearing is starting to go? Do you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or asking for comments and questions to be repeated multiple times?
If you think you have hearing loss, it’s normal to feel anxious or unsure of what to do next. It’s important to take action, though, to preserve your hearing and maintaining your quality of life.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss symptoms, read on to learn what steps you ought to take to stay healthy and prevent your symptoms from getting worse.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
What are the symptoms of hearing loss? Common ones are things like turning up the volume or asking for things to be repeated on a frequent basis.
There are other symptoms you ought to be looking out for, including the following:
- Speech and other sounds are muffled
- You have trouble understanding words or hearing consonants
- Having to ask others to speak more clearly or slowly
- Having to concentrate more when others are speaking
You may also find yourself withdrawing from conversations or avoiding social situations altogether because you can’t hear what’s being said.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are a few different types of hearing loss from which you may be suffering. Hearing loss is typically broken down into the following three categories:
Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss results from a blockage in the ear. This blockage stops sound from entering the ear and reaching the nerves that send sound signals to the brain. There are many different causes of conductive hearing loss, including:
- A ruptured eardrum
- Impacted ear wax
- A foreign object
- Fluid in the ear or an ear infection
- A physical deformation
Conductive hearing loss can sometimes be corrected with medical or surgical procedures. In many cases, though, hearing aids are also needed.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss results from a change in the ability of the inner ear to process sound. Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- Certain medications
- Injuries or accidents
- Intense noise exposure
Sensorineural hearing loss is often permanent, but hearing aids can make it more manageable.
Mixed Hearing Loss
This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. In some cases, it can be addressed with surgery, but treatment often requires the use of hearing aids.
What to do if You Suspect Hearing Loss
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms of hearing loss?
If so, don’t panic, and don’t immediately rush out to buy a hearing aid, either. There are a few steps you need to take first to determine how you should handle the issue.
If you suspect hearing loss, take the following steps:
Express Your Concern
It’s normal to feel a little scared or unsettled when you recognize symptoms of hearing loss.
Don’t keep these feelings to yourself, though. Instead, talk to your partner or a family member about what you’re experiencing. There’s a good chance that they’ve already noticed your symptoms.
Speak openly about the situation so you can work together to create a plan to help you correct the problem and maintain your hearing.
Evaluate Your Symptoms
Before you schedule an appointment with your doctor, it’s a good idea to carefully evaluate your symptoms.
The following are some questions you might want to ask yourself when evaluating your symptoms:
- What kind of sounds am I missing? High-pitched? Low-pitched?
- Is speech comprehension hard for me?
- Which situations are the most difficult for me?
- Do I have ringing in my ears?
- Did my hearing loss come on suddenly, or has it gradually been getting worse?
The more specific your answers are to the questions, the easier it will be for you to provide the doctor with the information they need to diagnose you correctly.
Talk to Your Insurance Provider
Next, it’s a good idea to call your insurance provider and find out what they cover with regards to hearing aids and exams.
There are a few different ways in which insurance providers might help you save money on your hearing aids, including the following:
- Hearing aid benefits provide you with a fixed copayment for hearing exams and hearing aids
- Hearing aid allowance gives you a fixed amount that your provider will pay toward the cost of hearing aids
- Hearing aid discounts provide you with a decreased price on hearing aids and other services
Once you figure out what your insurance provider will cover, it will be easier for you to find the right hearing specialist and figure out what you can afford to spend on hearing aids.
Have Your Hearing Tested
Now, it’s time to get your hearing tested. A hearing specialist will conduct a full hearing exam to figure out what is causing your hearing loss, how severe it is, and what can be done to address it.
Hearing tests are non-invasive and painless. In most cases, you’ll sit in a sound-treated room and wear headphones or earplugs.
These devices are connected to an audiometer. This is the device that conducts the hearing test.
The audiometer will play a variety of sounds and different volumes and pitches, and you’ll have to raise your hand or push a button when you hear each sound. It’s a simple test and doesn’t take very long to complete.
Choose Your Hearing Aids
Once you’ve completed the hearing test, your doctor will let you know whether or not they recommend hearing aids.
If they do recommend hearing aids, your next task will be to choose the ones you want to wear. There are a lot of factors that go into this decision, including the following:
- How severe your hearing loss is
- The type of your hearing loss you’re experiencing
- Age and lifestyle
- Dexterity, vision, and other physical factors
Your doctor will take your technology preferences into account, too. For example, they might help you choose hearing aids that can connect to smartphones and other devices.
Start Comparing Hearing Aids Today
Do you think you’re beginning to experience the symptoms of hearing loss?
If so, it’s a good idea to start wearing hearing aids sooner rather than later. If you start wearing them now, you’ll have time to get used to them.
Not sure which hearing aids are right for you?
Check out some of our reviews today to learn more about the different brands and styles on the market. This article of the seven best hearing aids is a great starting point.