About 15% of the adult US population experiences some form of hearing loss. That’s 37.5 million people, so hearing loss is very common, with men twice as likely to have it as women.

People associate hearing loss with old age, but people of all ages can experience trouble hearing, especially if they work in a loud environment for five years or more.

Why Do So Many People Have an Undiagnosed Hearing Loss?

To our dismay, the average person waits 7 to 10 years before they address their hearing problem. That’s 7 to 10 years of increased cognitive load.

Your brain craves sound, and when you have to use increased cognitive resources to follow a conversation, that means fewer cognitive resources are available to do other things you want to do.

We think many people don’t know they have a hearing loss because the loss is so gradual, and they don’t do anything about it until it’s an obvious problem.

Why Do People Wait so Long Before Addressing Hearing Loss?

Unfortunately, so many people wait so long when everyone around them has to work harder to compensate for their hearing loss. Waiting can even cause a relationship to start becoming codependent — when the hearing person becomes the translator.

At Pacific Hearing Services, we focus on favorable options and positive outcomes, and we have many patients grateful for how helpful treatment has been for their relationships.

People think the cost of hearing aids is the number one reason people go without them, but the research does not bear this out.

In Norway, where hearing aids are free, almost 60% of candidates opt against them. The most common thing people say? “I can get by without hearing aids.” This is a head-scratcher for us. Why “get by” when you can thrive?

Many people refuse to get help because they “know” they’ll have to wear a hearing aid, but their hearing problem might be fixed some other way.

They have no idea how great hearing technology has become. There’s even one type of hearing aid that’s invisible — we place it inside the ear canal, and it can stay there for six months before the batteries need to be changed.

The Most Common Signs of Hearing Loss

The most common signs of hearing loss that we see patients come in for are:

  • Having to turn the TV louder than others want it
  • Talking loudly
  • Tinnitus – ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Accusing other people of mumbling
  • Fatigue
  • Misunderstanding what others say
  • Phone conversations or talking with grandchildren can be challenging.

How To Recognize These Signs in a Loved One

You can tell if a loved one is experiencing a hearing loss when they appear to ignore you when you’re talking, or they don’t hear you from the next room.

They complain that you are not speaking clearly, they keep asking you to repeat what you’ve said, and they don’t follow the conversation at family gatherings or social events.

This can cause them to start avoiding social interaction because they don’t want to embarrass themselves by not being able to interact.

They might be frustrated with themselves and defensive and impatient with you. You might have even started to feel resentful because you’ve somehow become your loved one’s hearing “aid” and translator, and you feel they depend on you too much rather than seeking help from a hearing specialist.

If you find yourself changing your behavior to compensate for your loved ones hearing loss, now would be the best time to encourage them to address their challenges.

What to Do If You Are Concerned About Your Hearing Loss or That Of A Loved One

If you think you or a loved one might have a hearing loss, the first step is a thorough comprehensive hearing evaluation or a 360 Communication Assessment at our Los Altos or Menlo Park location.

Our comprehensive hearing assessment is non-invasive and performed by one of our audiologists — all of whom have a doctorate of audiology degree.

We’ll look into your ear canals, perform a series of tests to assess your degree of hearing deficit and speech sound recognition, and find clues about what might be causing problems.

The results will then help us put a customized hearing treatment solution together to get your hearing at its best.

Why Are Regular Hearing Tests So Important?

It’s important to keep track of your hearing ability and of how much it is changing over the years.

Hearing loss comes on slowly and tends to sneak up on people. We recommend a hearing evaluation every two years or earlier if concerned.

This way, we can catch changes you may not be aware of and implement preventative measures to keep your hearing health at its optimal level so you can enjoy all your family, work, and social conversations once again.

Many hearing aid wearers notice that their hearing has changed but don’t want to come in because they think it will mean having to buy new hearing aids. They don’t realize that hearing aids can be reprogrammed to compensate for those changes — assuming they are less than five years old — so there is no cost of buying new ones. (Although, if the hearing aids are older than this, we may recommend replacing them because of the incredible benefits of newer hearing aid technology.)

Contact us for additional information or support for diagnosing hearing loss or to set up a tele-audiology consultation or a hearing exam, which follows CDC protocols to help protect your health and safety.

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Jane H. Baxter, Au.D.

Jane H. Baxter, Au.D.

Dr. Baxter became a partner at Pacific Hearing Service in 1986 and both manages and provides audiology services at the Menlo Park office. She completed her clinical doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.) at Salus University, received her graduate training at San Francisco State and UC Berkeley, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and certified by the American Board of Audiology.