We may take it for granted sometimes, but our hearing is an important part of our quality of life. Hearing loss not only affects how you experience the world around you but if left untreated, it can increase a person’s risk for dementia, depression, falls, and memory and balance issues. In the United States there are approximately 48 million individuals that have hearing loss and while many people assume it only affects older people, 62% of those with hearing loss are under age 65.
Just like you should have regular visits with your primary care provider, dentist, or eye doctor, checking your hearing should be part of your regular health routine. Hearing loss can be gradual, so getting it checked annually can help you track slight changes from year to year.
While you should get regular hearing checks regardless if you are having symptoms as they can be subtle, signs of hearing loss can include:
- Muffling of speech and other sounds
- Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
- Needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio
- Withdrawal from conversations
- Avoidance of some social settings
When you get a hearing evaluation, there are a few things the audiologist may ask you to do.
- Provide personal and family histories. The provider may ask about your personal hearing health or any history of hearing loss in your family. It’s important to have a full picture of anything that could affect your hearing such as genetic factors or medical conditions such as ear infections, allergies, colds, or past head traumas.
- Noise Exposure Evaluation. If your job, hobbies, or social activities frequently expose you to loud noises, it may put you at higher risk for hearing loss.
- Otoscopic exam. Earwax and other obstructions can affect your hearing. An otoscope allows the audiologist to observe your ear canal and ear drum and check for any potential obstructions.
- Pure tone test. For this test, you will wear headphones and will sit in a quiet room. You will listen for faint tones and either raise your hand or press a button when you hear the tone. Your responses to the tones will help the audiologist determine which frequencies you are able to hear and which frequencies you may be having trouble hearing.
- Speech test. This test helps determine what spoken sounds you can hear and at what volumes.
The good news is, hearing loss is very treatable, especially when detected early through regular hearing screenings. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss but may include:
- Removing wax blockage
- Surgical procedures
- Hearing aids
- Cochlear implants
While some services at the Fisher-Titus Hearing Center have been put on hold due to COVID-19, we are providing contactless hearing aid services and supply pick ups as well offering discounted hearing aid cleaning services. For more information on our contactless services, call the Fisher-titus Rehabilitation Department at 419-660-2700. As soon as it is safe to do so and in line with local and state recommendations, we look forward to resuming our normal audiology services which include:
- Comprehensive adult and pediatric hearing screenings with an audiologist
- Assistive devices
- Ear molds
- Battery sales
- Hearing aid services including the latest in digital hearing aid fitting and repairs
- Custom noise protection
- Swim plugs
About Caitlin Robertson
Caitlin Robertson, Au.D., CCC-A, F-AAA is an audiologist with Fisher-Titus. A native of Norwalk, Caitlin works with patients of all ages from newborns who fail universal infant newborn hearing screenings to older patients. For more information about the Fisher-Titus Hearing Center, visit fishertitus.org/hearing-center.