Don’t be so sure.
For most people, hearing loss happens over time. Most doctors don’t screen for hearing loss during a routine physical. Even if your doctor does check for hearing loss, you may still “pass” the screening test in a quiet exam room.
The symptoms of hearing loss can be hard to notice. Quite often, family members and friends notice hearing loss before the person who is experiencing it.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Common signs of hearing loss include:
- Do you frequently ask others to repeat themselves?
- Do you have trouble following conversations that involve more than two people?
- Do you think that other people are mumbling?
- Do you fail to hear someone talking from behind you?
- Do you have problems hearing in noisy places such as the movies, restaurants or parties?
- Do you have trouble hearing the voices of women and small children?
- Do you turn up the TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby?
- Do you have difficulty on the phone?
- Do you have trouble hearing your alarm clock?
- If you answered yes, to any of those questions you might have a hearing problem. It’s tempting to think, that in the diabetes scheme of things, loss of hearing is relatively unimportant. However, hearing loss can impact your life in ways you might not have considered.
- Are you embarrassed to talk openly about not being able to hear?
- At work are you afraid to reveal your hearing loss in case it jeopardizes your job?
- Are you feeling isolated from your spouse, children or grandchildren because you cannot hear their high-pitched voices?
- Are you cutting out activities that you used to love but have become painful because you cannot join in fully anymore?
- Do you find yourself getting angry because you aren’t comprehending what people are saying?
These are common reactions and can lead to withdrawal from social interaction, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and even depression.
What should I do if I think I have a hearing loss?
Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to determine if you have a hearing loss and to rule out any other medical conditions that might be affecting your hearing.
Your doctor may refer you to several different hearing specialists, depending on what is appropriate for your hearing loss.
If your physician finds no medical cause for your hearing loss and does not refer you for further testing, and tells you that nothing can be done for you, you should make an appointment directly with a hearing health professional for a full hearing test and evaluation.
An ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor (otolaryngologist or otologist) (oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/gist) is a physician trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. To find an otolaryngologist near you or call (703) 836-4444.
An Audiologist is a health care professional qualified to do a thorough evaluation of your hearing. The audiologist can determine the type and degree of hearing loss and whether or not you can be helped by hearing aids. If so, they can determine the best type of hearing aid for you. The audiologist will recommend a treatment program to assist you with your communication needs and, if indicated, may recommend a medical evaluation.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires you to see a physician before seeing an audiologist or you must sign a waiver.
Hearing Instrument Specialist is a professional certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (BC-HIS) and licensed or registered in all states. This specialist does an assessment, fits and dispenses hearing aids, and provides instruction in the use and care of hearing aids and related devices. For a hearing instrument specialist near you, call the International Hearing Society’s (IHS) Hearing Aid Helpline at 800.521.5247.
What will I learn from a professional hearing exam?
You will find out if you have a hearing loss, what might be causing it, and if it can be treated. Many types of hearing loss may be treated and, even if it can’t, there are things you can do to cope in situations that have caused you communication problems.