Is Your Hearing Quietly Slipping Away?

It’s almost spring. You used to love the sound of the robins singing, the wind gently whistling through the trees, and the crunch of the gravel under your feet during a walk. But gradually, those sounds have slipped away from you—not all at once. It’s been a barely perceptible change. But when someone recently commented on the birds singing, you thought, “I can’t recall the last time I heard the birds singing. When did that happen?”

The answer for most people is that their hearing loss doesn’t happen at a single point in time. It happens gradually, unnoticed until…well, they can’t hear the subtle sounds they used to love, like the robins singing.

It’s a fact that hearing loss is an extremely common health problem in America, and indeed the world. Statistics show about one in five Americans over age 12 struggles with hearing, and those numbers increase with each decade of life.

Even after a hearing test reveals a hearing loss, many people still struggle with the idea that they can’t hear as well as they once did. A national study of adults between the ages of 20 and 69 found more than two-thirds of participants with demonstrated hearing loss believed their hearing was fine. Even in those with more pronounced problems, 43 percent continued to report that their hearing seemed normal. This may be because the everyday noises we take for granted, like hearing a grandchild’s whisper, gradually slip away.

But it’s also a fact that after most people realize they have a hearing loss, they wait an average of seven years to do something about it. And only about one in three older adults who could benefit from wearing hearing aids has used them.

So, what’s the solution?

Authorities in the U.S. remain divided on whether and when someone should have their first diagnostic hearing evaluation. But the World Health Organization recommends regular hearing screening for adults ages 50 and up every five years, with frequency increasing to every one to three years from ages 65 years and up.

With no official recommendations in place, perhaps the best rule of thumb is to follow your primary care physician’s advice and be aware of your hearing in general. If you notice you’re missing specific sounds that you used to hear effortlessly, get your hearing checked by a hearing health professional.

A doctoral-level audiologist is a healthcare professional who evaluates, diagnoses, treats, and manages hearing loss and balance disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants and teens to adults and the elderly.

An audiologist can also make recommendations for a treatment plan customized to your specific lifestyle needs and budget. Plus, an audiologist is aware of the wide range of technologies available to treat hearing loss, and if necessary, can make referrals to other medical specialists.

To find a reputable audiology clinic and provider, do the following:

  • Look for a clinic that’s convenient for you. Audiology care often requires follow-up visits.
  • Ask what types of hearing aids the clinic offers. An independent clinic will offer several brands of hearing aids with a variety of options for patients.
  • Ask if the clinic accepts your insurance plan and if you need a referral, then verify with your insurance plan.
  • Check online reviews and when you schedule your appointment, make sure the support staff is kind, courteous and helpful.
  • Ask friends and family members if they have a recommendation for an audiologist.
  • Visit the practice’s website and read about the audiologist you think you may want to see to be sure they have the appropriate background and experience.

Once you have scheduled an appointment, use the list below to prepare for your first appointment with the audiologist:

  • Make a list of the sounds you’re missing, symptoms you are experiencing and your health history. Some conditions, such as diabetes or dementia, can impact hearing.
  • Bring a list of the medicines and supplements you are currently taking. Some can affect hearing and balance.
  • Make a list of questions you want to ask the audiologist.
  • Bring a family member or close friend with you to help you remember what the audiologist says.

Associated Audiologists features team of doctoral-level audiologists who use advanced diagnostic and verification technology to diagnose and treat hearing loss. To be sure patients receive the maximum benefit from their hearing aids, we customize every recommendation we make to the patient’s specific hearing needs, goals and budget. All hearing aid fittings are verified using real ear and speech mapping. Plus, we have more than 1,000, 5-star reviews.

So, if you want to hear the sounds again that have been slowly fading away, schedule an appointment for a diagnostic hearing evaluation with a doctoral-level audiologist.