Hearing loss is more common than you might think
After 60+ years in the hearing care industry, we’ve seen it all when working with hearing loss patients. While technology and education have come a long way in our industry, a constant through all the years is folks simply waiting too long to treat hearing loss.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but the most common by far is that people just don’t know the signs and symptoms of hearing loss to identify the problem and seek help. Millions of people in the US experience some form of hearing loss, but the number of those people that seek treatment is much smaller.
With the potential risks that hearing loss can cause to your life, like increased risk for dementia or other mental health issues like depression, it’s critical to know the warning signs of hearing loss and know when to seek help.
What causes hearing loss in the first place?
Depending on the type of hearing loss you experience, the causes may differ, but there are several factors that we see most often when diagnosing a patient with hearing loss in our practices.
Aging is by far the most common cause of hearing loss, as the inner ear structures can deteriorate over time. Another common cause is constant or prolonged exposure to loud noises, either through your occupation or recreational activities – this is better known is noise-induced hearing loss.
Other things like genetics, some illnesses (such as meningitis), and medications (like antibiotics or cancer drugs) can also cause hearing loss, but they are slightly less common.
Step 1: Evaluate your risk factors
One of the most important steps you can take in learning how to recognize hearing loss is evaluating your risk factors. In other words, do any of the common causes apply to you, your lifestyle, and your medical history?
For example, if you work in the construction industry but haven’t been very good about wearing hearing protection throughout your career, you’re probably at a higher risk of hearing loss.
You can also look at things like your family history and current medications to determine how high risk you are at. Does a close relative have hearing loss caused by genetic factors already? Are you taking any medications that list cochlear damage or tinnitus as side effects? These are all things to consider to evaluate your risk, especially as you age.
Step 2: Watch for signs
While you know your body best and can usually tell when something is wrong, hearing loss often develops gradually and can be hard to recognize over time. But, there’s usually a point where your hearing loss is too noticeable to ignore.
Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re turning up the television or radio louder than usual or you’re having trouble understanding people during conversation. Maybe you have a hard time talking on the phone or are finding it difficult to keep up with conversations with family and friends. These are all potential signs that hearing loss may be present.
Every person experiences hearing loss differently, so there’s not a single sign or list of signs that guarantees a hearing loss diagnosis. Ultimately, you know what’s “normal,” and when something is abnormal, it usually causes concern.
When to seek help for hearing loss
Now that you know the signs to watch for and understand your risk factors for hearing loss, be sure you’re always taking mental notes when your hearing seems off. Once your symptoms become so noticeable that they are affecting your mental health, personal relationships, or day-to-day life, it may be time to seek help.
Experiencing hearing loss, even just a little bit, can be scary and isolating, but knowing the warning signs and admitting you may need a professional opinion is the first step. What’s more – you’re not alone in this experience!
If you’re ready to get answers and take control of your hearing health, contact your local Beltone Tristate practice today to schedule a hearing test and evaluation with one of our friendly hearing care providers. Or, if you’re not quite ready to take the leap just yet, you can take our free Warning Signs Self-Assessment, instead.