Hearing loss affects over 48 million people in the U.S. and can have devastating impacts. Difficulty hearing can lead to poor communication, relationship problems, social withdrawal, depression and even cognitive decline. Unfortunately, only one in five people with hearing loss actually seeks treatment, and the average person waits seven to ten years to do so.

Below is a guide to help you determine whether it’s time to schedule a hearing test.

Underestimating Your Level of Hearing Loss Is Common

A survey by Consumer Reports found that 30 percent of respondents reported they’ve gone 10 years or more without a hearing test or have never had their hearing tested at all. This is likely because most people underestimate their level of hearing loss.

new study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery analyzed 2,613 patients age 60 or older, comparing the participants’ self-reported hearing ability to objective hearing tests. Researchers found that 42 percent of participants who reported no trouble hearing actually had mild hearing loss.

The Signs of Hearing Loss

If you experience any of the following symptoms of hearing loss, it’s important to schedule a hearing test right away.

  • Conversations sound muffled, or you experience an “underwater” sensation.

  • You have difficulty deciphering consonant sounds.

  • It is difficult to follow conversations when background noise is present.

  • You’re constantly asking people to slow down or repeat themselves.

  • You turn up the TV so loud it is uncomfortable for others.

  • Telephone conversations are difficult.

  • People tell you you’re misunderstanding them.

Recommended Schedule for Hearing Screenings

Even if you don’t experience any signs of hearing loss, you should have your hearing screened periodically in order to catch potential problems early. Audiologists recommend a baseline hearing test around age 21 in order to measure changes to hearing over time.

Hearing screenings are recommended every 10 years until age 50, then every three years after that. Frequency of screenings should be increased for those with a family history of hearing loss and those who are exposed to occupational noise.

For more information about hearing loss or to schedule a hearing test, contact the experts at the Hearing Center of Lake Charles today.