While some medical conditions—broken bones, major illnesses—send us flying to the doctor, others in life creep up and can take a long time to even notice. Hearing loss is one such condition. It can take years before we realize that we are leaning in closer to listen, that noisy environments are getting increasingly frustrating, and that we are mishearing our friends and coworkers much more frequently. Those of us who passed our childhood screening tests with flying colors aren’t used to adding hearing to our roster of regular exams, but there comes a point when it’s time to start paying attention to one of our most critical senses and get our hearing checked.
Talk to Your Family Doctor
Happily, getting your hearing checked is an easy and painless process, so there’s no reason to wait. The first step is talking to your doctor, who will first rule out any wax buildup that could be causing your hearing loss, and can then discuss with you the different types of hearing loss and potential causes. Finally, they can refer you to an audiologist. Note that many insurance companies require a referral from your primary care physician, so don’t skip this critical first step of talking to your doctor.
See an Audiologist
Given how many potential causes there are for hearing loss, and the many forms it can take, it is important to consult an expert in the field. An audiologist will first examine your ears to look for physical problems or signs of damage to the inner ear. Next, they will conduct a comprehensive hearing exam (remember these from elementary school? Raise your hand when you hear the tone!). Finally, they will explain the possible causes of your hearing loss and discuss your options for solutions, which can include hearing aids or other hearing assistance devices. In some cases, surgery might be recommended, especially if there’s been an injury.
Consider Your Options
Until recently, bulky hearing aids were the best and pretty much only non-surgical solution for hearing loss. Not only were they sometimes unsightly, but there was also a stigma and indication of age associated with them. Now, however, hearing aids are much smaller and less obvious—you could easily attend a board meeting without anyone even knowing you were wearing them. Rapid advances in digital technology have also enabled new audio-assistance devices to help with navigating day-to-day situations. Read the fine print, though, since many hearing devices amplify all noise, which can still make individual voices difficult to understand.
Noopl is another hearing-assistance option. Designed to work with your iPhone, it cuts through ambient noise and facilitates hearing and conversation in noisy environments. It works with AirPods Pro, which many people already use for listening to podcasts or talking on the phone, as well as with MFi compatible hearing aids.
The takeaway is that hearing loss is common and with so many new solutions available, there’s no reason to retreat from work, social and family life because of difficulty hearing.