Hearing loss is among the top five most common health problems reported in the US, affecting an estimated 80 million people. As a result, there’s an enormous need out there for audiologists – people who can accurately diagnose and treat a range of hearing ills.
But how do you know when you should see an audiologist?
When you have tinnitus
Patients often describe tinnitus as a persistent “ringing in the ears,” but it can take a variety of forms, such as whirring, scraping, or clapping noises, besides the usual high-pitch ring. Tinnitus comes in two types: exogenous tinnitus which could theoretically be detected with the right listening equipment, and endogenous, which is entirely created in the patient’s brain.
Tinnitus is often the consequence of hearing loss and something that audiologists can help alleviate, often with the help of a hearing aid.
When you have excessive ear wax
Healthy ears are naturally self-cleaning. But sometimes this cleaning mechanism can go awry, especially if you regularly wear a hearing aid or use earplugs. Earwax can build up behind the aid and eventually block the ear canal, affecting hearing.
Audiologists offer a range of products for removing earwax safely and counsel you on strategies you must avoid. Most audiologists recommend that patients use a cleansing solution poured into the ear which dissolves wax buildup, allowing it to drain naturally.
When you need a checkup
The quality of your hearing does not remain constant over time: it changes as you age. Regular checkups are essential for ensuring that you’re on the right treatment plan.
When you experience a sudden loss in hearing
Sudden hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons: earwax buildup, perforation of the eardrum, damage to the ear, and damage to the brain from a traumatic injury. Seeing an audiologist is vital in these situations.
Visiting an audiologist, however, is also crucial for sudden hearing loss with no immediate cause. Patients are advised not to view sudden hearing loss as “just something temporary” but to see their audiologist immediately.
When you can’t identify children’s voices
One of the hallmarks of progressive hearing loss is the inability to detect certain sounds, especially that of high-pitch voices. People should go and see their audiologist if children complain about having to repeat themselves or that you “are not listening.”
When you have to turn up the TV volume
If you usually have the TV volume set to 30 but find that you can only hear what’s being said at 40, then that could be a sign that your hearing has deteriorated. Audiologists can confirm whether or not you’ve experienced any decline since your last visit and offer a range of treatments.
When you start avoiding social interactions
People with hearing loss can begin to suffer from depression and a desire to withdraw from social situations. It’s not a pleasant experience being unable to hear and interpret what those around you are saying. Audiologists can help you choose a hearing aid that will make it much easier to listen to and understand what’s going on in social situations, making them less stressful and allowing you to be yourself.