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What? 6 Signs You Need a Hearing Test

Posted 12/23/2016 by UHBlog

Hearing loss is gradual and very treatable. We can help.

What? 6 Signs You Need a Hearing Test

If your friends and family have been teasing you about your hearing, they may be on to something. The people around you tend to notice your hearing changes before you do, says senior audiologist Andrea Sterkel, AuD/CCC-A.

“Hearing loss is typically a very gradual onset to the point where you may not notice,” Sterkel says. “Friends and family often urge a patient to come in and get their hearing tested.”

With 36 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, it’s a growing problem – especially among boomers and seniors. In older adults, hearing loss is typically related to noise exposure, the aging process, audio-toxic medications like chemotherapy and/or family history of hearing loss.

According to Sterkel, the six signs that you or your loved one may be experiencing hearing loss are:

  • Asking friends and family to repeat speech. If “what?” or “huh?” have become common in your vocabulary, you should have your hearing checked.
  • Turning up the TV too loud. Your friends and family aren’t just being too sensitive.
    “If others have been complaining that you turn the TV on way too loud, this could be a sign that your hearing has degraded,” she says.
  • Having a “better” ear. “If you feel like you have a ‘better’ ear and a ‘poorer’ ear, get your hearing tested,” Sterkel says. “You may be experiencing hearing loss in one or both ears.”
  • Difficulties with competing noise. Do restaurants and crowds now pose a challenge?
    “When you’re in a large-group setting, such as a restaurant, the competing noises can make it hard to hear and carry on a conversation, even if you have mild hearing loss,” she says.
  • Ringing or buzzing. “Ringing or buzzing in the ears is a big indicator of hearing loss,” Sterkel says. “This can be a sign of damage to the inner ear or cochlea.”
  • Trouble on the telephone. If you find telephone conversations increasingly challenging or miss the sound of the phone ringing, this is a sign of hearing loss.

If any of these signs sound familiar, listen up: Hearing loss is often correctable through hearing aids – and it should be done sooner rather than later.

“We want you to be able to hear well in all social circumstances – at home, in groups or out and about – to keep you involved in life and keep your brain active,” says Sterkel. “We will recommend hearing aids based on your test results. Even mild hearing loss can have a great impact on your social interactions and communication.”

Left untreated, hearing loss can lead to feeling emotionally and socially secluded.

“If you can’t hear a conversation or continually ask for speech to be repeated, family members may become frustrated,” she says. “This can lead you to withdraw from communication and can contribute to depression. Research shows hearing loss can also affect or enhance dementia.”

Sterkel recommends that you have your hearing tested regularly. Once hearing loss is diagnosed, you should get an annual hearing test so that your hearing aids can be adjusted to “grow with you.”

“I would recommend having your hearing evaluated on a regular basis or annually, especially if you have a family history of hearing loss or notice other ear symptoms like dizziness, ringing, or fullness or pressure,” says Sterkel.

Andrea Sterkel, AuD/CCC-A is a senior audiologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Sterkel or any audiologist online.

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