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Of course, the most obvious symptom is inability to hear. However, hearing loss sneaks up on people. Often family members and friends are aware of hearing problems before the hearing-impaired person.

What Is Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss, or deafness, is the partial or total inability to hear sound in one or both ears. The human ear is amazing. It is one of the smallest and most complex organs in the body, capable of turning the tiniest disturbances in air molecules into a form the brain can understand – and doing so instantaneously, over an enormous range of pitch and loudness. Considering the ear’s delicacy, it is remarkably resilient. Nevertheless, illness or injury can impair our ability to hear properly. In recent years, substantial advances have made it possible to determine the cause of hearing impairment in nearly all cases, and to treat the hearing loss in many ears.

Many people in the early stages of hearing loss of this sort will find themselves:

  •  Asking people to repeat themselves more frequently
  •  Offering inappropriate answers because they have misheard a conversation or question
  •  Going out less and socializing less

There are many other symptoms that may be related to hearing loss:

  • Increased levels of frustration and irritability are common.
  • Sometimes difficulty understanding speech is more of a problem than an inability to hear speech.
  • Feelings of ear fullness or pressure, ear noises (ringing, buzzing, crickets, seashells, steam, and others), and dizziness.

Hearing loss is not always slowly progressive and stable from day to day. It may be sudden, rapidly progressive, or even fluctuating (good times and bad times).

Ten Ways To Recognize Hearing Loss:

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

  • Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
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Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
  • Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
  • Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  • Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
  • Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
  • Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  • Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?

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.

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