What to do if you think you have hearing loss
Most people who have hearing loss aren’t born with it. Instead, hearing loss creeps up on us over time, usually caused by exposure to loud noises, aging, or some combination of the two.
Statistics show that the prevalence of hearing loss doubles for every decade of life, which explains why one out of three people 65-74 have hearing loss, nearly half over 75 have it, and four out of five people 85+ have hearing loss.
In other words, for most of us, hearing loss is normal and natural — just part of living a long, eventful life.
In this blog, we’ll walk through what you should do if and when the inevitableness of hearing loss happens to you.
1. Get your hearing tested
If you think you have hearing loss — either by exhibiting common signs, or because your spouse, friends, coworkers or family members keep questioning your hearing ability — you should get your hearing tested.
To do that, you can start with an online hearing test (take our one) — or you can visit a hearing professional to get a thorough, definitive hearing evaluation.
2. Choose between ignoring it…
If it turns out you have hearing loss, you have a choice — you can ignore it and deal with the challenges, or you can treat it.
Some of the challenges of hearing loss are subtle and barely noticeable, like needing things to be repeated, or missing out on small everyday sounds.
Some are more obvious and impactful, like mishearing important information, or feeling left out of conversations and activities.
Still others can be profound, health-related issues, like how hearing loss is linked to increased risks of depression, anxiety, falls and hospitalizations, social isolation, and even dementia.
…or treating it
But doctors and scientists from institutions including Johns Hopkins Medicine and Columbia University have long noted that treating hearing loss can help with many of these challenges, and studies have shown that for people with hearing loss, using a hearing aid is associated with a reduced risk of falls, depression, anxiety and dementia.
3. Visit a hearing healthcare professional
When you are ready to treat your hearing loss — and Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Frank Lin recommends treating it “sooner rather than later…before these brain structural changes take place” — you can start by talking to your doctor or general practitioner (GP). Or, go directly to a hearing healthcare professional, like an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor), audiologist or hearing aid specialist.
4. Get to the bottom of your hearing loss
Your appointment with a hearing healthcare professional is your chance to get all your questions answered about your hearing loss. While not every practice or clinic will do things exactly the same, you should expect some common procedures when you go in for your first visit.
• Fill out paperwork — including intake papers with health history and hearing questionnaire.
• Complete a hearing evaluation — this typically includes a visual inspection of your ears and a hearing test in a sound booth.
• Review your audiogram — the results of your test will be in the form of an audiogram, which is a graph that measures your specific hearing loss.
• Discuss treatment options and next steps — this may include a technology demonstration and hearing aid recommendation.
5. Ask to try hearing aids
If hearing loss is confirmed during your appointment, hearing aids will most likely be recommended. Hearing aids are by far the most common way to treat hearing loss. They can help a majority of people who have hearing issues, especially if the hearing aids have been fit by an experienced professional, and programmed and customized to the individual’s unique hearing and lifestyle needs.
Most states require a 30- to 60-day trial period for hearing aids. And even in states that don’t, most hearing professionals will offer it. This is a no-brainer opportunity to try them for yourself and experience the difference they can make in your everyday life.
6. Request ones that are tailored to you
Hearing aids are not one-size-fits-all. That’s why getting them in-person — from a licensed professional — is the way to go. The two of you will work closely to select the right hearing aids for you, which will be based on many factors including your degree of loss, personal style and feature preferences, how active you are, and more.
7. Experience the difference they make
Once you get your hearing aids, take advantage of the trial period and wear them at home, outside, during work, while watching TV or enjoying leisure activities, and around your friends and loved ones.
See and experience for yourself why so many hearing aid wearers say that wearing them changed their life and how they wish they had treated their hearing loss much, much sooner.