Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer "yes" to three or more of these questions, you could have a hearing problem and may need to have your hearing checked by a doctor.
Do I have a problem hearing on the telephone?
Do I have trouble hearing when there is noise in the background?
Is it hard for me to follow a conversation when two or more people talk at once?
Do I have to strain to understand a conversation?
Do many people I talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
Do I misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
Do I have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
Do people complain that I turn the TV volume up too high?
Do I hear a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?
Do some sounds seem too loud? What should I do?
Hearing problems are serious. The most important thing you can do if you think you have a hearing problem is to go see a doctor. Your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist (oh-toe-lair-in-GAH-luh-jist), a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat. An otolaryngologist will try to find out why you have a hearing loss and offer treatment options. He or she may also refer you to another hearing professional, an audiologist (aw-dee-AH-luh-jist). An audiologist can measure your hearing. Sometimes otolaryngologists and audiologists work together to find the treatment that is right for you. If you need a hearing aid, an audiologist can help you find the right one. Although children must be seen by a physician before they can be fitted for a hearing aid, adults do not always see a physician. Adults who do not see a physician before getting a hearing aid must sign a waiver.
Why am I losing my hearing?
Hearing loss happens for many reasons. Some people lose their hearing slowly as they age. This condition is known as presbycusis (prez-buh-KYOO-sis). Doctors do not know why presbycusis happens, but it seems to run in families. Another reason for hearing loss may be exposure to too much loud noise. This condition is known as noise-induced hearing loss. Many construction workers, farmers, musicians, airport workers, tree cutters, and people in the armed forces have hearing problems because of too much exposure to loud noise. Sometimes loud noise can cause a ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ears, called tinnitus (tin-NY-tus).
Hearing loss can also be caused by a virus or bacteria, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medicines.