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How do I know if I have a hearing loss?

Hearing loss occurs to most people as they age. Hearing loss can be due to aging, exposure to loud noise, medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital or hereditary factors, disease processes and many other causes. The vast majority of hearing problems do not require medical or surgical intervention. Some 90 to 95 percent of all cases of hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids.

There are some 28 million people in the USA with hearing loss. Hearing loss is the single most common birth "defect" in America. Approximately one third of all seniors aged 75 years and older have significant hearing loss. About 14 percent of all people aged 45 to 64 years have demonstrable hearing loss. Hearing loss negatively impacts quality of life, personal relationships and of course, your ability to communicate.

You may have hearing loss if...

  • You hear people speaking but you have to strain to understand their words.
  • You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
  • You dont laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story or the punch line.
  • You frequently complain that people mumble.
  • You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
  • You play the TV or radio louder than your friends, spouse and relatives.
  • You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
  • You find that when people look directly at you while they speak to you, it makes it easier to understand.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see an audiologist to get an "audiometric evaluation." An audiometric evaluation (AE) is the term used to describe a diagnostic hearing test, performed by a licensed audiologist. An AE is not just pressing the button when you hear a "beep." Rather, an audiometric evaluation allows the audiologist to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss, and it tells the audiologist how well or how poorly you understand speech. After all, speech is the single most important sound we listen to and the ability to understand speech is extremely important. Your ability to hear and understand speech in quiet and in noisy situations are important indicators, and they can be accurately tested by your audiologist. The AE also includes a thorough case history (interview) as well as visual inspection of the ear canal and eardrum. The results of the AE are also useful to the ear, nose and throat doctor, in the event the audiologist concludes your hearing problem may be treated with medical or surgical alternatives.

Written hearing tests, "dial a hearing test" and other online hearing tests are not 100% accurate, and are certainly not diagnostic, but they may be utilized as screening tools. These screenings are usually free and can be scored within a few seconds. Written hearing screenings may point the patient (or consumer) in a particular direction and may help validate that a hearing problem exists.

Therefore, weve designed a written hearing screening to provide you with some general guidelines about your hearing ability. It is free and it may offer you insight regarding the likelihood that a hearing loss is present. If you would like to take the written hearing screening, click here.