Health Watch: Hearing Loss can make the Holidays hard

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The holidays are upon us, and now is a good time to notice if you or someone you love is suffering from hearing loss.  If you think you're seeing someone experiencing hearing loss, or you are struggling to follow conversations, SLUCare audiologists can perform a baseline hearing test to determine if you have hearing loss, how severe it is and the best way to treat it.

Dr. Dave Harris, SLUCare audiologist says, "You may not notice that you are asking people to repeat. And then, your television is starting to get a little bit louder."  Infection or auto-immune diseases can cause sudden hearing loss.  "We're social beings. And once you can't socialize, then we no longer enjoy life."

If you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to get it checked out with an audiologist to determine if there’s a problem. The sooner you address it, the better.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you qualify for a baseline hearing test:

1) Do you struggle to hear on the phone? Do you have the volume setting on high?

2) Do people tell you that your TV is too loud?

3) Do you struggle to keep up with conversations?

4) Do you say “what” a lot?

5) Do you frequently misunderstand what people are saying to you and get frustrated?

Hearing tests are painless and non-invasive. They occur in a quiet, sound-treated room (booth) designed to keep out any other noises. You’ll wear headphones or soft earplugs with wires connected to an audiometer. You’ll be asked to listen to tones at different pitches and volumes and push a button or raise your hand when you hear them. The test measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency tested. This part of the test is called pure tone audiometry. Speech audiometry is another component of most hearing tests, and it uses recorded or live speech instead of pure tones.

The most common type of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss, and this type often results in a decreased ability to hear high-pitched sounds. In many cases, this is age-related.

Temporary vs. Permanent: Some people may experience temporary hearing loss after going to a concert, fireworks show or hunting. It can last for a few hours or several days before hearing returns to normal. If you are exposed to loud noises frequently, the ears have a harder time recovering and your hearing loss can become permanent. Permanent hearing loss cannot be reversed and usually involves damage to the auditory nerves or the tiny hair cells of the inner ear. For most permanent hearing loss, the best solution is a hearing aid.

To learn more about hearing tests, click here.

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