Updated: Aug 25
Hearing is one of our five senses — a pivotal part of how we experience the world around us. It’s so familiar that we’re often keenly aware of any change to that powerful sense — like feeling the need to listen to the TV at a higher volume, or missing the words of a friend or family member.
But even so, how do you know if these changes are mere everyday inconveniences — or perhaps something more serious, like early hearing loss?
If you do have early hearing loss, don’t worry — it’s not a reason to panic! According to the National Institutes of Health, 15% of American adults have some level of hearing difficulty. For older adults, specifically, nearly 25% of 65- to 74-year-olds have disabling hearing loss — and 50% of adults 75 and up do, too.
Furthermore, early hearing loss is being increasingly reported amongst young adults, as well. It is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. This gradual increase is due in part to loud, unsafe noise – often outside of work.
So rest assured, you’re not alone! Still, it is wise to figure out if you do, indeed, have hearing loss — so you can work on solutions like affordable hearing aids, and preserve the hearing you still have. Just read on to learn more about next steps.
How Do You Know If You Have Early Hearing Loss?
If you’re being proactive by researching signs of hearing loss, that itself might be a good indicator that there’s something worth talking to your doctor about. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both provide reliable questionnaires to check symptoms of hearing loss at home.
If you answer yes to three or more of the following questions, then the NIDCD recommends having your hearing checked:
Do you sometimes feel embarrassed when you meet new people because you struggle to hear?
Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty hearing them?
Do you have difficulty hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?
Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?
Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?
Furthermore, if you answer yes to at least one of these questions, then you may have mild-to-moderate hearing loss according to the FDA:
Do you have difficulty hearing or understanding conversations, particularly in groups and noisy places, or when you can’t see who is talking?
Do you difficulty hearing while using a telephone?
Do you have fatigue due to greater listening effort?
Do you need to turn up the volume of TV, radio, or music louder than normal or loud enough for others to complain?
What Happens Next?
Fortunately, if you suspect you may be experiencing early hearing loss, there are options. Safe listening habits are easy to implement at home. Start by checking your sources of loud sound, risks, hazards, and ototoxins. Then, follow the three Ds of safe listening:
Reduce Decibel (lower the volume)
Reduce Duration (reduce time listening to loud sounds)
Increase Distance (put a safe distance between yourself and loud sounds)
Many people will also want to check in with their doctor, who can provide more guidance about hearing loss, and possible causes— sometimes, for example, there may be an underlying condition at play.
Next, put technology on your side! With Audition Technology, for example, you can get connected with an ATLAS Resonate App and online Self-Analysis Tool that will help you monitor your listening in real time — and make safe choices you (and your ears) can feel good about. Use of the App and eTool could protect you from hearing damage.
Hereat Audition Technology, we’re constantly sharing more information and resources about hearing loss — so keep up with us, too! In fact, we will be holding 30-minute webinars on hearing health topics that can be managed directly by you.
We hope that today’s guide helps you understand early hearing loss — and what to do if you notice it in your own life. Get in touch with Audition Technology today to learn more about apps, hearing aids, and other resources that may be able to help with your next steps. We’re here for you!