Ten Ways to Recognize Hearing Loss

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More than 28 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing and 30 million more are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. Levels of hearing impairment vary from a mild but important loss of sensitivity, to a total loss of hearing. The largest group of Americans suffering from hearing loss is the elderly. Age-related hearing loss affects 30 to 35 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 65 and 75 years, and 40 percent of the population over the age of 75. The most common cause of hearing loss in children is otitis media, a disorder that affects predominantly infants and young children. A substantial number of hearing impairments are caused by environmental factors such as noise, drugs, and toxins. Many acquired sensorineural hearing losses may result from a genetic predisposition. Important progress has been made during the last decade in understanding the auditory system.

The following questions will help you determine if you need to have your hearing evaluated by a medical professional:

  1. Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone? Yes or No

  2. Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time? Yes or No

  3. Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high? Yes or No

  4. Do you have to strain to understand conversation? Yes or No

  5. Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background? Yes or No

  6. Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves? Yes or No

  7. Do many people you talk to see to mumble (or not speak clearly)?

  8. Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately? Yes or No

  9. Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?

  10. Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say? Yes or No

If you answered "yes" to three or more of these questions, you may want to see an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) or an audiologist for a hearing evaluation.

For additional information, please visit the MedicineNet.com Hearing Center.

The material on this page is for general information only and is not intended for diagnostic or treatment purposes. A doctor or other health care professional must be consulted for diagnostic information and advice regarding treatment.

Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (www.nidcd.nih.gov)

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Last Editorial Review: 5/1/2002