For millions of people, hearing loss makes the world much more difficult to navigate. One may experience problems at school or work, withdrawal from social activities, or general frustration with communicating. The person experiencing these situations may be unaware that hearing loss is contributing to these problems, so at Advanced Ear, Nose & Throat Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, we suggest some common scenarios that might indicate the need to consult with a hearing specialist.
Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Difficulty Hearing Others
One of the most common and obvious effects of hearing loss is difficulty hearing other people speak. If you are struggling to hear your family, friends, or co-workers in everyday conversation, that could be a telltale symptom. Do you often think that those around you are mumbling, or do you find yourself trying to read people’s lips in order to better understand what they’re saying? Constantly asking others to speak up or repeat themselves can suggest that it might be time to see a hearing specialist.
Whether you are by yourself or around other people, if you are experiencing a decrease in hearing, you may find yourself turning up the volume on your TV or radio. You may not be aware of this tendency unless those around you comment that the volume of your favorite show or station is extremely high, so be aware of this sign of hearing loss as well.
Not Understanding or Misunderstanding
Potentially one of the most worrisome aspects of hearing loss is finding that you are not understanding what others are saying or that you’re misunderstanding what is being said. For children, missing out on instruction in school can be detrimental to their academic progress, which can frequently cause behavioral problems. In the workplace, misunderstanding instructions can lead to inadequate job performance or even cause safety hazards.
Ringing in Ears, Ear Infections, and Dizziness
In addition to having to grapple with day-to-day interactions, some people may also be confronted with annoying and debilitating physical symptoms. A constant ringing sound in your ears, known as tinnitus, can become a disrupting and irritating phenomenon in your every-day life.
Constant ear infections may further indicate that a visit to a hearing specialist is warranted. Finally, if you are experiencing any sort of dizziness, this could also suggest that you are experiencing some form of hearing loss.
Lastly, you may find yourself physically and mentally fatigued. Because of the difficulties encountered with communication and the problems that may have arisen at school or work, you may simply be exhausted. If you are dealing with ringing ears, ear infections, or dizziness, that only compounds the issue.
You also may have noticed impatience or annoyance directed toward you as you try to communicate with others, which is a situation that can be both confusing and stressful. It is no wonder that you are tired at the end of each day.
Although tests used to determine treatment vary, a preliminary examination begins with an otoscope, which is a small magnified light capable of examining the outer, middle, and inner ear. After that, a specialist may test your ability to hear quiet sounds with an audiogram, or perform a tympanogram, which allows a small probe to check your ear canal for holes in your eardrum or fluid behind it. Stapedial reflex testing may be used to diagnose issues with the middle ear, and other, more specialized tests exist if needed.
If your diagnosis rules out an underlying medical issue, there are a variety of techniques that can enable you to hear better.
The most well-known device, the hearing aid, solves most hearing problems. Unlike hearing aids of the past, new devices are programmed with advanced digital noise reduction, allowing you to more clearly hear and enjoy the world around you. Hearing aids may even help reduce the effects of tinnitus.
Assisted Listening Devices
Assisted listening devices are designed for those who do not use hearing aids but are still somewhat hearing impaired. One item is an amplified telephone. Another available product is “TV ears,” which makes use of a wireless headset to allow you to enjoy programs at a different volume than others in the room.
For those who work around loud noises, hearing specialists may recommend earplugs. Musicians, construction workers, and those who regularly engage in shooting sports may benefit from these custom-fitted devices. Swimmers, too, may want to invest in this technology to better protect their ears.
Early Intervention With a Hearing Specialist
As with most medical issues, early intervention is the key to preventing further problems. Typically, older adults dealing with hearing loss slowly withdraw from conversations and interactions with loved ones. Others may endure embarrassment at work as they struggle to complete tasks due to not understanding or misunderstanding verbal instructions. Overall, relationships with others and the general quality of life may diminish, leading to frustration, sadness, and even depression.
In order to prevent or lessen the severity of these draining emotional effects, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you have noticed that you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms of hearing loss, consult the board-certified specialists at Advanced Ear, Nose & Throat Associates in Atlanta. As the top-rated otolaryngology practice in the Atlanta area, our hearing specialists will assess your hearing loss and determine a treatment program. The earlier you pay us a visit, the sooner you will be on your way to better hearing and a much-improved quality of life.