How do I know if I have hearing loss? This is the lingering question asked by children and adults alike. More often than not, the hearing loss goes undetected because it doesn’t show obvious signs until it starts to progress.
Even if you suspect that your hearing starts to deteriorate, it will take years before you seek treatment. In most cases, those with untreated hearing loss end up losing their ability to hear partially or completely.
It’s necessary to be aware of the early signs of hearing loss. Whether you’re an adult or a parent of a child you suspect to have hearing problems, knowing the signs pays off. So, how do you know if you have hearing loss?
Hearing Loss in Children
In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a National Health Survey. Although there were varying results, the primary objective of the survey is to find out how common hearing loss is in children.
The survey indicated that 5 participants out of every 1000 children have been found to be affected by hearing loss. The children who participated where between ages three and 17. The survey also revealed the prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss.
The ages prevalent for hearing loss according to research conducted by CDC in 2013, are between six and 19. This is 12.5% of both adolescents and children. These children suffer from hearing loss due to exposure to excessive noise.
Causes of Hearing Loss In Children
Aside from exposure to noise, hearing loss can also be congenital. Children may experience sensorineural, conductive or mixed hearing loss. The role of parents is to be the physician, teacher, and caretaker to children with hearing problem, especially the ones who are undiagnosed. Hearing loss can affect children’s development and may even cause emotional problems.
What is a congenital hearing loss?
Congenital hearing loss is present at the time a child was born or during infancy. While it has many causes, there is no exact cause linked to congenital hearing loss. One thing is for sure: congenital hearing loss have both genetic and non-genetic factors:
Non Genetic Factors
Premature Birth: When babies weigh less than 3 pounds or they require drugs for respiration, premature babies are more likely at risk of hearing loss.
Brain Disorder: Another reason infants can develop congenital hearing loss is when they have nervous system or brain disorder.
Maternal Diabetes: If the mother is diabetic, the probability of the baby developing hearing loss is also high.
Birth Complications: Complications at birth like toxoplasmosis, herpes, rubella cytomegalovirus or other types of infections can also increase the risk of congenital hearing loss in children.
Alcohol or drug abuse: If the mother is smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, the baby has a greater risk of developing hearing loss once the mother gives birth.
Genetic Syndromes: These syndromes include Crouzon syndrome, Treacher Collins syndrome, Usher syndrome, Down syndrome, and Alport syndrome.
Autosomal recessive hearing loss: Although both parents do not have hearing loss, they have a recessive gene which increases the possibility of passing the impairment to the child. However, discovering the child has hearing loss often comes as a surprise to parents. It is because none of them is aware of that they have recessive gene.
Autosomal dominant hearing loss: According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, about 15% of hearing losses are due to the fact that one parent carries a dominant hearing loss gene. It is also possible that they may not have hearing loss, but he or she shows signs of a genetic syndrome.
Acquired Hearing Loss
If hearing impairment is acquired, various causes will be linked to it including:
- Secondhand smoke exposure
- Serious head injury
- Infections like measles, mumps, whooping cough or meningitis
- Intake of ototoxic medications
- Perforated eardrum
- Meniere’s disease
- Frequent otitis media or ear infection
Signs of hearing loss in children
By monitoring hearing and speech milestones, you will be able to determine if a child has hearing loss.
- Responds to familiar voices by cooing or smiling
- Stirs or wakes up at loud noises
- Responds with a smile when spoken to
- Understands hand gestures like waving goodbye
- Reacts to toys that make sounds
- Understands basic instructions
- Responds when called
- Uses simple words
- Can follow basic commands
- Identifies common objects.
- Listens attentively to rhymes, stories, and songs
Your child may have hearing loss if these signs are present:
- Has difficulty replying when called
- Delays in speech or language
- Complains of ear noises, ear pain or earaches
- Has trouble understanding over the phone
- Turns up the volume of the television to hear
- Provides inappropriate answers to questions
- Imitates other people’s action in school or at home
- Watches the face of the speaker intently or reads lips
Hearing Loss In Adults
Have you ever wondered “how can I tell if I have hearing loss?”Adults also develop hearing loss as they age. For age-related hearing loss, individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 are more likely to develop this impairment according to a study.
Unfortunately, some people who have hearing loss don’t get immediate treatment due to fear or embarrassment. The fact that they don’t want to seek treatment right away causes the problem to get worse.
Sudden Hearing Loss
When you experience a rapid loss of hearing, you might have a sudden hearing loss. You could lose your hearing all at once or over a period of 3 days. Sudden hearing loss is considered as a medical emergency. Anyone who experiences sudden hearing loss should consult the doctor for the problem to be treated.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
As you get older, you become more susceptible to hearing loss. It is either because it runs in the family or you acquired it due to your prolonged exposure to noisy environments.
Age-related hearing loss or Presbycusis shows signs gradually. You will notice that you become intolerant to loud sounds or you have trouble understanding what other people are saying.
Age-related hearing loss is due to the changes that occur in your auditory nerve and inner ear. This type of hearing loss often occurs in both ears. They are also affected equally. Although the loss is gradual, an individual who has presbycusis may not be aware of the condition unless the ability to hear is lost.
Older people may also experience tinnitus which is characterized by hissing, buzzing or clicking in the ear. Tinnitus may come and go. One or both ears can be affected and the sound may also be loud or soft.
Tinnitus is considered as the first sign of hearing loss in adults. Tinnitus can also be an early sign of any type of hearing loss or other health problems like allergies, high blood pressure, and many others.
Signs of Hearing Loss in Adults
You might ask, “How do I know if I have hearing loss?” It might not be obvious that you have hearing loss, but if you notice these warning signs, visit your doctor at once:
- Perceives others to be mumbling
- Has trouble understanding women or children when speaking to you
- Asks people to repeat themselves
- Has difficulties watching TV without turning up the volume so loud
- Cannot follow conversations with groups
- Cannot hear over the phone
Coping with hearing loss
So for the question, how to know if I have hearing loss? Having these signs will point you in the right direction. If any of these signs are present, you should talk to your doctor so you will get immediate treatment.
Be sure to let people know you have hearing loss so they can make necessary adjustments when speaking to you. Tell them you do not understand what they say or ask them to reword a sentence.
Seeking professional advice is the first step to treating your hearing problem. You will be referred to a doctor specializing in nose, ear, and throat. They will be the one to identify or measure hearing loss.