Hearing loss occurs extremely gradually, typically over a period of years or even decades. Because of this, hearing loss often goes unnoticed and untreated. It is important to know and understand the signs of potential hearing loss, so that you can take action right away and start treating your hearing loss. Getting a hearing test is the first step towards better hearing and an improved quality of life. Keep these factors in mind when deciding whether or not a hearing test is the right step for you.
When should you take a hearing test?
If you are 50 years or older.
Experts recommend adults get their hearing tested once every 10 years from the time they are about 21 up until age 50. After 50, it is recommended that adults get their hearing checked every three years. If you are like most of our patients, you likely haven’t had your hearing tested at all in your adult life. If this is you, do not worry! It is never too early or too late to start caring for your hearing health. If you are 50 or older and haven’t had a hearing screen in the last three years, it is time for a hearing assessment, regardless of whether or not you experience symptoms.
If it feels like people are mumbling.
With hearing loss, the first thing to go is usually speech intelligibility. Speech intelligibility is our ability to decipher the minute differences between sounds when listening to speech, for example the difference between the “b” sound and the “p” sound. Because of this, it can feel as though everyone around you is always mumbling. If you find that it seems people around you are speaking quietly or mumbling more often that they used to, or if you find that you are always asking others to repeat themselves, it may be time for a hearing assessment.
If you always need to increase the volume.
When watching TV or listening to a podcast, does it always feel as though the volume is just a little too low? When watching with others, does it feel as though you are always the one requesting the volume be increased? Perhaps, your spouse has begun nagging you that the volume is too loud, but it seems to be the same volume you have always kept the TV on. Any of these circumstances could indicate that it is time to reach out to a hearing healthcare professional for a hearing screen.
If people accuse you of not listening.
This is an extremely frustrating aspect of living with untreated hearing loss. As mentioned above, untreated hearing loss makes understanding speech very difficult. When you struggle to understand what a person is saying or constantly need to ask your conversation partner to repeat themselves, it can seem as though you are not listening or interested in what the other person has to say. This can cause frustration, miscommunication and hurt feelings on the behalf of all parties. If this is happening more often than normal, it may indicate the presence of an untreated hearing loss.
If phone conversations have become more difficult.
Communicating over the phone can be very difficult with untreated hearing loss. Over the phone it is impossible to rely on other communication clues such as facial expressions and body language. Phone conversations are also naturally less clear than in-person ones, thus complicating the situation further. If you have noticed an increase amount of frustration during phone conversations or a desire to text message friends and family rather than talk, this may indicate a hearing loss. Hearing aids of today can connect directly to your phone, and can stream conversations directly into your ear.
If you avoid social situations you used to enjoy.
Social isolation is a key indicator that there may be an untreated hearing loss present. If you have noticed that you are no longer excited for, or tend to opt out of social gatherings you used to enjoy, you may have a hearing loss. Understanding speech, especially within groups of people and in noisy environments, is really difficult with untreated hearing loss. If you have noticed yourself stepping back from your normal social routine, it may be time for a hearing screen.