If illness or injury causes an abrupt change in your ability to hear, it’s typically quite noticeable. However, many times hearing loss develops gradually, which can make it challenging to recognize that there’s a problem. What are the symptoms of hearing loss? What causes it? And what risk factors can leave you vulnerable to this auditory issue?
Understanding the Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can affect anyone. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, nearly 50 million Americans are dealing with some level of hearing loss. What do you need to know about hearing loss?
The Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Certain red flags can indicate that your hearing isn’t as good as it should be. You should consider the possibility that hearing loss might be present if you note any of the following symptoms:
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves.
- You believe that most people mumble.
- You have trouble understanding conversation when two or more people are talking.
- You find it difficult to understand what children or women are saying.
- You turn the radio or television to volumes that others complain are excessive.
- You find it difficult to hear when talking to someone on the phone.
- You don’t always hear your alarm, doorbell, or telephone when it rings.
- You cannot participate in a conversation comfortably unless you can see the person talking to you.
- You sometimes answer inappropriately because you misheard a question or comment.
- You feel embarrassed or defensive if anyone notes your struggle with hearing.
- You find yourself dreading or avoiding social situations because of your hearing difficulties.
Contact an audiologist right away if you notice any of these symptoms of hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Some types of hearing loss can be reversed, so if you suspect there’s a problem, it’s best to seek out the assistance of an audiologist. For example, excess earwax can build up in the ear canal and interfere with your ability to hear. Earwax removal can solve this problem and restore the ability to hear. Other potential causes of hearing loss include ruptured eardrums, ear infections, and abnormal bone growths or tumors. Damage to the inner ear is another potential culprit. If the tiny hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea are damaged or destroyed by things like exposure to loud noises or aging, the electrical signals sent to the brain by the ear aren’t transmitted as efficiently. This type of hearing loss, which is called sensorineural hearing loss, is permanent, but it can often be managed effectively with hearing aids.
Risk Factors for Hearing Loss
Unfortunately, there are many risk factors for hearing loss. Simply getting older can cause hearing loss because the inner ear is a delicate structure that tends to degenerate as people age. Heredity can also be a factor. If others in your family have struggled with hearing loss, then your genetic makeup may mean that you’re more prone to hearing loss. In addition, getting sick can negatively impact your hearing. Ear infections may pose a problem, and illnesses that trigger high fevers can damage the inner ear, causing hearing loss. Even fighting ailments can endanger your hearing; certain medications can compromise the healthy structure of the inner ear. Finally, exposure to loud noises through either your occupation or recreational activities can be a factor in hearing loss.
Preventing Hearing Loss
While some of the factors that increase your risk of developing hearing loss are beyond your control, others can be influenced by your choices. If you want to prevent hearing loss, it pays to be proactive. For starters, have your hearing tested regularly. Identifying hearing loss in its early stages allows you to consider potential treatments sooner and take steps to slow or prevent additional losses. Does your profession require that you regularly spend time in a noisy environment? To protect your hearing, wear earmuffs or earplugs that dampen the volume. Do you enjoy loud music, target shooting or hunting, or riding noisy machines like snowmobiles or four wheelers? Loud noises encountered in recreational settings can be as damaging as those found in occupational settings, so be mindful of the noise levels around you. Turn down the volume or wear appropriate hearing protection to prevent hearing loss.
Hearing makes it much easier to communicate and interact with the world around you, so it’s no surprise that hearing loss can interfere with your ability to function successfully in both your professional and personal lives. It can even be a safety hazard since it can make it more difficult for you to detect hazards around you. Fortunately, many forms of hearing loss can be treated or managed. If you’re concerned about hearing loss, don’t wait. If you live near Limon, Pueblo, or Colorado Springs, Colorado, contact Apex Audiology today. Dr. William F. Herholtz can conduct a simple hearing test, increase your understanding of your hearing loss, and offer solutions for treatment. To get started, please call us at 719-247-9000 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!