When to get your hearing tested

Courtney thought she was too young to start losing her hearing.

She started noticing the problem at work. She was having trouble hearing when people gave presentations or when she was on conference calls.

She could not hear what was being said.

“It took me a while to go in a see somebody and figure out that it was me,” she said.

Courtney, an ADC patient who did not want to disclose her last name, said it took almost a year from the time when she thought something was wrong with her hearing to when she visited Audiology at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic.

Hearing loss is often associated with aging, but it can happen at any age.

In fact, Courtney’s decreased hearing was not caused by age, but instead by a disorder where the body produces a hormone that causes degenerative hearing loss.

She says her hearing will continue to worsen. Fortunately, she has options — hearing devices or surgery.

According to Penny Barron, an audiologist at ADC, it’s important to have a baseline test to see how your hearing changes over time.

“The only way to know what is going on with your hearing is to have it evaluated and actually have it measured,” she said. “We can’t detect those very small changes.”

John Wallace, an audiology patient, says he had his hearing checked because he was frequently asking people to repeat themselves.

“About 90 percent of my job is communications – mostly on the phone and in person,” he said. “I found I was sitting in a room full of people and could not understand what was being said.”

He says he did not notice his hearing slipping away. It was not until he got hearing devices that he realized how much he had been missing.

“I hadn’t heard a bird chirp in 10 years,” Wallace said. “Hearing loss is very insidious. You don’t realize how much you are missing until you get it back.”

Do you need your hearing checked?

Audiologist prepares patient for hearing evaluation

A comprehensive hearing evaluation is appropriate at any age.

If your ability to hear affects your daily life, you may want to consult your doctor. He or she may recommend you see an audiologist to be evaluated.

According to ADC audiologists, hearing should be tested even if you don’t think you need a hearing device.

Signs of decreased hearing include:

  • Muffled speech
  • Difficulty understanding words
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly or loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

What causes hearing loss?

Many people think of aging when they think of what leads to hearing loss. But in reality, a number of environmental conditions can also cause decreased hearing.

Causes include

  • Inner ear damage
    This can be caused by aging as well as extended exposure to loud noise.
  • Earwax buildup
  • Ear infections, abnormal bone growths, tumors
  • Ruptured eardrum

Hearing loss treatments

Barron says nothing can restore hearing 100 percent, but medicine and technology have come a long way, and they can help people function normally.

Once you have been evaluated, an audiologist or your physician can explain some of the treatments for decreased hearing.

Treatment options include

  • Removing earwax blockage
  • Amplification systems
  • Cochlear implants