Hearing loss can happen so subtly and slowly that you may not even be aware of it. Often family and friends are the first ones to point out that there may be a problem. The person with the hearing loss only notices the sounds that he or she has been missing after getting tested and receiving medical treatment or a hearing aid.
If you’re wondering if you may have hearing loss, ask yourself these questions:
Are you always asking people to repeat what they just said?
Do people often ask you to turn down the volume when you’re watching TV or listening to music?
Do you have an especially hard time figuring out what people are saying when you are in a noisy room? Or when you can’t see someone’s face – like when you’re talking on the telephone?
Have you noticed that you have a really tough time hearing “t,” “s” and “d” sounds?
If you answered yes to any one of the questions above, it's time to get your hearing tested.And if you find out that you do have hearing loss, you’re not alone. It is the third most common health problem in the U.S., affecting about 36 million Americans.
There are four basic types of hearing loss:
Auditory Processing Disorders occur when the brain can’t properly extract information from sounds.
Conductive is caused by a problem with the outer or middle ear that blocks or limits transmission of sound to the Inner Ear.
Sensorineural occurs after damage to the physical structures, such as the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss can also be present at birth or occur as an effect of ageing.
Mixed refers to having both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss
We tend to associate hearing problems with the natural process of ageing, but one in three cases of permanent hearing loss is caused by exposure to noise. Other issues that may decrease a person’s ability to hear include inner ear damage, a ruptured ear drum, trauma to the skull, earwax buildup, along with ear and sinus infections.
Illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can also lead to hearing loss Children sometimes experience hearing loss, usually temporary, following repeated ear infections.
And there are over a hundred types of medications (ototoxic medicine) that can cause hearing loss. These medications include aspirin (in large does- 8 to 12 pills a day), ibuprofen and naproxen, some antibiotics, some diuretics, and medicines to treat cancer. If you are taking an ototoxic drug and notice ringing in your ear and dizziness, check with your doctor. The symptoms often clear when you stop taking the drug, but in some cases, they may persist.
Talk to your doctor or a hearing loss expert about hearing loss. The first step will likely be taking a hearing test.
The testing process is easy and painless. Typically, it’s not a single test, but several procedures that measure how well you can hear.
The person giving you the test may start by asking you questions about your health and hearing ability. He or she may ask if you are exposed to loud noise at work, if you have ringing in your ears, if you experience dizziness, or have problems listening to conversations in certain types of environments. You will be asked about any health conditions you may have, and any medications you’re taking.
Next, your ear canal and eardrum will be checked using a device called an otoscope to check for ear wax blockages, eardrum perforations and any indication of infection. If any of these problems are spotted, the test may stop and you’ll be referred to a doctor for treatment.
The next test is the pure-tone air-conduction test. This determines your ability to consistently hear very low tones. You’ll wear earphones and indicate, by pushing a button or raising a finger, when you can hear tones played at different frequencies.
Next up is the bone conduction testing, which checks your inner ear’s hearing ability utilizes the same process as air conduction testing. This time though, the tones are sent to a device placed behind your ear rather than earphones.
During the next test, you’ll be asked to repeat a series of short words which will be played at lower and lower volumes.
And that’s it. If your testing shows some hearing loss that can’t be corrected with medical treatment, you may opt to get a hearing aid. If so, you’ll take several tests similar to the above to ensure your hearing aid fits your needs. These tests will gauge things such as the volumes you’re most comfortable with and how well you can hear in a noisy environment.
This depends on what type of insurance you have. Some private insurance plans cover testing but not hearing aids, others cover hearing aids alone. Medicaid covers hearing aids for children in some states. Medicare does not cover hearing aids, but some Medicare Advantage plans do.
Healthcare plans offered under Obamacare on the federal and state exchanges vary in their coverage of hearing tests and aids. Currently, only-two states include some coverage for hearing aids and related services.
But don’t let budget issues keep you from getting the hearing care that you need. DentalPlans.com has partnered with Amplifon to give you access to a free hearing card that gives you discounts on hearing products and services.
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