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Are You Missing the Subtle Signs of Hearing Loss in Your Patients?

Jun 21, 2018 06:00AM ● By MED Magazine

By Mandy Rounseville-Norgaard

Although nearly 27 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only 1 in 7 actually use a hearing aid.

Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises are significant factors that contribute to hearing loss. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily prevent the ears from conducting sounds as well as they should.

Hearing loss has been linked to depression, dementia, reduced job performance, stress, irritability, social isolation, and even an increased risk for falls.  If you, the patient, or the patient’s family members notice any of the following signs, it is best to refer him or her to a local audiologist for a diagnostic hearing evaluation.

Common signs of hearing loss include:

  • Patient regularly asks to have things repeated

  • Patient avoids social settings

  • Patient has significantly better hearing in one ear compared to the other

  • Patient has been prescribed or exposed to ototoxic medications

  • Patient has experienced  a significant heath event (i.e. stroke, heart attack)

  • Patient reports rapid onset of hearing loss in one or both ears that occurs within a 72-hour period.

  • Patient turns up the TV too loud, or  family/friends complain about how loud the TV volume is

  • Patient reports  trouble hearing in noisy situations

  • Patient complains about other people “mumbling”

  • Patient reports persistent ringing/buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)

  • Patient reports feeling of unsteadiness or being off-balance

  • Patient reports feeling as though the room is spinning around them, or they are spinning

  • Patient reports their ears feel “full”

Frequently, hearing sensitivity changes very gradually, and individuals compensate for the decreased hearing with other available cues.

For this reason, hearing loss may go unnoticed until it is affecting your patient’s quality of life. Therefore, even if your patients aren’t complaining about their hearing, any patient over the age of 40 should have a baseline hearing test. Consider referring your patients for a hearing evaluation as part of their overall health and wellness plan.

Mandy Rounseville-Norgaard, AuD, is a Sioux Falls native who practices audiology at Sioux Falls Audiology Associates.