Hearing loss can be an underlying issue that goes untreated for years without the patient even realizing it. Since there isn’t as steep of decline as other health issues that are more easily observable, deterioration of hearing can be far worse than one would anticipate even just a year apart from their previous checkup.
Here are a few ways to safely check for hearing loss.
Do you often ask for people to repeat themselves even in an individual setting?
Do your significant others or friends often ask you to turn down the volume on your stereo, television, or radio?
Do you use cotton swabs to try to remove ear wax?
Early stages of tinnitus, or the symptoms that most tinnitus patients experience in the early stages of their impairment
Hearing loss identified in an individual setting
Identifying hearing loss on your own can be difficult. To do so effectively and with the upmost objectivity, it’s recommended to find some sort of “control.” A control in an experiment is a piece of the test that minimizes all variables that are otherwise being tested. Creating a control allows you to assess data and find results that are more accurate. To do so, here are examples of tests you can do on your own.
Applying these hearing tests on your own
The music playlist – set up a music playing device in the room. Find a set of songs that you know distinctly, but do not know musically by heart. Then, listen to them once through on shuffle. This will allow you to get familiar with the songs again, while also ensuring you can identify them all easily. After you’ve done this, set the music device down at a certain distance away, measure that distance, and then listen to the songs on shuffle again.
This way you know it’s the same set of songs in a randomized order, which won’t allow you to predict the song, but only identify from a distance and purely hearing. Observe how the distance away from the device changes your results, and at what distance it becomes completely impossible to hear what’s being played.
Television settings – Watching a movie can be an easy place for you to test your hearing. Watch a film or television program on your ideal volume setting as a control, and then take note from there how your results vary. Increase your volume one tick at a time, identifying at which point the volume seems “too loud.” Then, give it a try with decreasing the volume. Once you can no longer understand what’s being said, or feel that the program is no longer watchable, take down the volume setting you reached.
At this point, you have a sort of spectrum of your viewing ability. More importantly, you know exactly which settings are good and which feel uncomfortable. Let the data rest for a month or two, and then conduct the same experiment. Compare results, and see where that brings you to.
Comparing your hearing to others around you
There’s often attribution of not being able to hear someone clearly to mumbling, lack of clarity or confidence in what the person’s saying, or otherwise incoherence. In reality, this is often just a sign of the receiver’s hearing loss becoming worse. This doesn’t happen overnight, it does however persist through almost every social setting. Eventually, it’s made clear that the root of the issue is not on the person speaking, rather the receiver’s hearing becomes worse and worse over time.
The same goes for when guests may ask for the tv or radio to be turned down, and rather than their ears being sensitive, it may be the host’s own hearing loss. An easy way to measure is thinking back on the oldest setting you can remember being comfortable for your radio or stereo. Usually, there’s a numeric value attached to it, and if that value has increased dramatically within the last year or two, then this may indicate a new deterioration in your own hearing.
Luckily enough, hearing loss is avoidable. Identifying behaviors that put your hearing more at risk is a great first behavior to address. However, there are some instances where deafness is not the damage that has occurred, but instead a condition called tinnitus.
Tinnitus is another serious issue that can become progressively worse very quickly. Tinnitus is identified as a ringing in the ears that is perpetual even in louder settings or silence. The early stages of this can be mirrored to how the listener’s ear sits in silence after a live sporting event or concert because of the decibels hit for the extended period they did. Days after, if this persists, then it is more likely tinnitus rather than simply some temporary hearing impairment. If it begins only in one ear, this also is an early-stage identification point for most patients with tinnitus.
Most commonly, tinnitus is not at a permanent level of damage. It has ebbs and flows to how often you are affected by it. Some days more serious, others less so. In either case, taking care of your ears in treatment is a good first step, which is a logical next step to ensuring their long-term health.
Next steps after identification
Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent depending on the cause. Ear infections can cause intermittent hearing loss that is most often not permanent, and will heal within a few days. These are common in infants or toddler age groups. Permanent hearing loss in most cases can never be healed, but instead adapted to with a hearing aid. Approaching your physician about potential solutions is the next step to getting aid for your hearing loss.
Avoiding future hearing loss
Hearing loss can be avoided in most cases, precautions are just rarely taken by those subject to potentially harmful settings like concerts, clubs, theme parks, or live sporting events. Wearing ear plugs is a basic precaution to easily avoid some of the more severe effects of hearing loss without damaging the experience even in the slightest. In regard to self care, avoid using cotton swabs to attempt to clean your ears. This often leads to wax build up over the eardrum, and can be more harmful than helpful in most instances. Again, professional advice on how to proceed when there’s hearing loss perceived, and it’s important to get treatment early in order to preserve your ears from long term conditions.