Recent studies show there are many benefits to getting your hearing tested as soon as possible if hearing loss is suspected. Early detection can mean the difference between a smooth transition into better hearing, or going through the struggles of relearning how to hear.
Quick Statistics About Hearing Loss
About 15% of American adults 18 years of age and older report having some trouble with their hearing.
Based on standard hearing examinations, roughly 30 million Americans (or 13%) age 12 and over have been diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears. That’s around 1 in 8 Americans.
28.8 million adults in the US could benefit from the use of hearing aids.
Why Are These Statistics Important?
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the US, and audiologists are working to raise awareness about hearing health. Do you turn up the volume on the TV, or constantly ask friends and family members to repeat themselves? Do you have trouble following the conversation in a work meeting or community event? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, it’s time to get your hearing checked.
“There’s unfortunately still a stigma associated with hearing loss,” says Nicholas Reed, Au.D., an audiologist and hearing researcher at Johns Hopkins University. He notes that people with hearing loss wait an average of eight years to seek treatment for their hearing loss.
Here's what to do if you think you might have hearing loss.
1. Start with your family doctor.
Your family physician can check for wax buildup and discuss possible medical causes of your hearing loss. Also, be aware that some insurance plans require a medical referral from a doctor to see an audiologist. If that visit doesn’t solve your problem, your next stop should be to an audiologist, a practitioner who specializes in hearing.
2. Schedule an appointment with an audiologist.
Ask friends who wear hearing aids to recommend an audiologist. Look for a practitioner who is licensed and certified and who works with different brands of hearing aids, rather than just one. At Hart Hearing & Balance we work with the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers, and our team of audiologists is here to help you hear better.
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between an audiologist — a trained health care professional with at least a master’s degree — and a hearing aid or hearing instrument dispenser, who does hearing tests primarily for the purpose of selling hearing aids.
3. Discuss treatment options.
The audiologist will do a comprehensive hearing test and check for physical problems. The visit may include a pressure test, (to check your eardrum); a tone test, (to see how you hear different pitches); and a speech test, (in which you repeat sounds). Afterward, the audiologist will go over your results using an audiogram, which will provide a visual representation of your hearing. They will then recommend a course of action. If the audiologist believes that your hearing loss can be surgically corrected, you’ll be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.
4. Decide whether to try a hearing aid.
If your audiologist recommends a hearing aid, take it very seriously. You may want to go home, think it over and come back after you’ve had time to process your diagnosis. When you’re ready, ask your audiologist about the pros and cons of different types of hearing aids.
5. Give yourself time to adjust.
Unlike glasses, which correct your vision immediately, hearing aids frequently don’t work perfectly right away. It will take your brain time to adapt to hearing new sounds and background noises. Ask for a trial period, and make sure the hearing device is right for you before committing to a hearing aid.
6. Find support.
If you’re the only one in your family or circle of friends with hearing loss, ask your audiologist about local support groups, or search online for a local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. It’s important to connect with someone who understands what you’re going through.
If you’re ready to do the right thing for your hearing health, add an annual hearing test to your new year’s resolutions, and call us today at Hart Hearing & Balance to book an appointment.