Is It Hearing Loss?
Dr. Thomas Wise, Au.D., Pacific Hearing Services
Hearing loss is a prime example of the common phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know.” How do you know if a miscommunication is normal or if it’s a sign of hearing loss? After all, some people do mumble, some people do speak softly, and some people do run their words together. Even someone with no hearing loss is bound to miss something, right?
There are a couple of simple ways to get a good idea of whether you should call an audiologist. The first is to see if you recognize tried-and-true signs. Are any of these familiar in your life? You tend feel left out of conversations. You tend struggle to follow conversations in a noisy restaurant or dining room. You set the volume of the television higher than others do in order to hear it clearly.
One of the most accurate ways to determine whether you have a hearing problem is to simply ask yourself, “Do I feel like I have a hearing loss?” A 2001 study from the University of Sydney found that this single question had a 78% sensitivity and 67% specificity for detecting hearing loss, making it one of the most accurate self-administered assessments of hearing. If upon honest reflection you answer the question with a “yes,” an evaluation by an audiologist would be warranted.
But fear not, a comprehensive hearing test is relatively quick, completely painless, and usually covered by insurance with a referral from your primary care physician. Your audiologist will be able to tell you the same day whether you are among the 40% of 60-year-olds or 90% of 80-year-olds that have hearing loss — or if the grandkids do indeed need to slow down and speak up!