Most people don’t notice a problem with their ears in the earliest stages of hearing loss.
Typically, hearing loss starts out gradually, then increases over time – eventually leading to issues that disrupt daily lifestyle. But if you are paying attention, then you might notice some of the most important signs indicating that you need to talk to an ENT for a hearing test.
Frequency of Hearing Testing
Hearing tests are common for elementary students because good hearing is a critical sense that affects a child’s ability to learn. As a person approaches adulthood, regular hearing tests are less common. Many people go through the majority of their adulthood without a formal hearing test.
It’s easy to understand that you need a hearing test when you are having a hard time hearing. But you should also consider regular testing even when you think that everything is fine. A baseline test can be used to determine your current level of hearing, then your doctor can use this information to track changes in your hearing over time.
The general recommendation is that adults under the age of 50 should have their hearing tested every 10 years. People who are older than 50 should have their hearing tested every 3 years, or more often if hearing loss is occurring. Since an estimated 30% of people over the age of 65 have hearing loss, it’s important to be proactive with regular testing.
Hearing Screening vs. Hearing Testing
Keep in mind that a general screening is different than a professional hearing test. Usually, hearing screenings offer either a pass or fail score. If you don’t pass a hearing screening, then it’s time to talk to an ENT or audiologist for comprehensive hearing testing.
Screenings are often used for babies and children. Adults can also have hearing screenings at their doctor’s office.
This detailed evaluation is used to determine the type of hearing loss you are experiencing, as well as the severity and range of your hearing loss. This full diagnostic process also looks at underlying health and physical concerns that could be contributing to the development of your hearing loss.
Then, proper treatment can be identified to restore your hearing as much as possible.
Signs You Need a Hearing Test
In many cases, hearing loss is permanent. Since the symptoms start gradually, you might not notice there is a problem until it is too late. It’s important to be aware of common signs of hearing problems so you can identify these issues as soon as possible.
Here is an overview of some of the most common symptoms of hearing loss:
- Difficulty hearing other people talk in noisy environments such as cars, restaurants, or big group events
- You feel like everyone else is mumbling
- Often asking other people to repeat themselves
- Buzzing or ringing in the ears
- You find it hard to understand conversations over the phone or when someone is facing in another direction
- Family members complain about the high volume when you are watching TV or listening to music
- Missing out on common sounds, such as an alarm clock or the birds tweeting outside
If you notice any of the above symptoms, then you shouldn’t delay in scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. For a self-check to determine if you need a hearing test, answer these questions from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Answering “yes” to 3 or more of the questions on the NIDCD website is an indication that you need to talk to an ENT or audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.
Why Am I Losing My Hearing?
Hearing is one of the senses that many people take for granted – not realizing how important it is until they start to lose their hearing. A variety of causes can impact your ability to hear. During your hearing test, the doctor prioritizes diagnosis to identify the underlying causes.
Even though you usually can’t restore lost hearing, a proactive approach can be used to maintain your current level of hearing. Treatment usually involves protecting your current hearing and amplifying it to assist in your daily activities.
These factors can increase the likelihood of losing your hearing:
- Age: One of the most common indicators of hearing loss is a person’s age. The combination of genetics and lifetime exposure to elements that damage the ears can result in hearing loss in the later years of life.
- Genetics: Certain genetic mutations can lead to hearing loss, with this problem being passed from generation to generation. Between 35 – 55% of age-related hearing loss is likely the result of genetics.
- Medications: If you are using medications for other health conditions, then it is possible that the side effects could impact your hearing. It’s important to learn about potential side effects before taking any new medication. Also, talk to your doctor right away if you notice changes in your hearing after starting a new medication.
- Noise: The inner ear contains sensitive areas that can be damaged noises that are loud. Noise-generated hearing loss can be either temporary or permanent. When you are in an environment with loud noises, then the sound can damage your hearing – especially when the exposure is consistent. Prevent hearing loss by using proper ear protection on construction sites, at concerts, or listening to headphones. Avoid loud noises whenever possible.
- Temporary: Temporary conditions can cause hearing loss such as congestion in the ears because of a sinus infection or head cold. The build-up of wax in the ear can cause blockages that interfere with your hearing. You’ll likely find that your hearing returns when the infection is cleared and your ears open back up again. An ENT can offer treatment recommendations for these temporary issues.
In some cases, the doctor might not be able to identify the reason why you are experiencing hearing loss. Even with the advances in testing and technology, some hearing loss cases are unexplainable. Our team can offer recommendations for treatment to optimize your hearing as much as possible.
Talk to an ENT about a Hearing Test
The results of a DIY hearing test can be unreliable, which is why it is always best to talk to an experienced ear, nose, and throat specialist about your concerns.
If you are located near the Dallas or Collin County area, our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is available to assist with your hearing test. You are welcome to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient offices in Frisco or Plano, TX.
Request an appointment online, or call us during regular business hours: (972) 596-4005.