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How do you know you need a hearing aid?

By December 18, 2008 - 10:42am
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That sounds like a silly question, I know. I imagine you are thinking, "Well, when you can't hear, of course!" But I'm thinking that perhaps there are subtle degrees of hearing loss that we aren't aware of along the way.

I know I have some hearing loss from all the rock concerts I went to in my 20s and 30s. That third-row seat at Bruce Springsteen was awesome, but my ears have rang ever since! And that's a couple of decades ago!

I find myself saying "what?" more often, yet I feel like most of the time I hear well. I have constant tinnitis, but I know a hearing aid won't help tune that out (if it would, I'd have signed up years ago). My question is, how does a person know that slight hearing loss has built up to the degree that they need some help? What does a person notice in their lives that signify "this is serious" as opposed to just "Mom was right, I should have turned it down." ?

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The Cleveland Clinic has a great site that talks about this very topic.

Here are some warning signs of hearing loss, if you..
* Complain that people are mumbling
* Frequently ask people to repeat what they have said
* Have increased difficulty understanding what people are saying in background noise such as noisy rooms, social occasions, or family gatherings (especially in noisy restaurants or movie theater, which was one of my uncles wake up calls!)
* Prefer the television or radio louder than other people
* Have trouble understanding what is being said at the movies or theater, your house of worship, or other public gatherings
* Have difficulty understanding conversations in a group
* Become more impatient, irritable, frustrated, or withdrawn
* Have difficulty understanding people when you cannot see their faces

You can assess your hearing at the Cleveland Clinic's "How Well Do I Hear Test".

Basically, the test asks if you feel frustrated or embarrassed in any situations, or if your hearing difficulty is causing problems in your life. If so, it may not be a bad idea to visit a hearing specialist (audiologist) to perform a simple hearing test.

Also, the American Speech, Language Hearing Association (ASHA) talks about the different types of hearing loss and configuration.
The ASHA site explains the three basic types of hearing loss (conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss), as well as the different classifications of hearing loss (a chart is provided at the ASHA website; however, you would need a hearing test to know your results).

Sorry---I realize this does not answer your question exactly, but there is gradual hearing loss with age, as well as from trauma or injury, that can only be diagnosed with a hearing test. Take the self-assessment and write back: let us know what your next steps are!

December 18, 2008 - 2:09pm
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