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How to Identify Hearing Loss

Physician showing patient a model of a ear

Are you having problems hearing? You’re not alone. Over 31 million Americans have been diagnosed with hearing loss. Millions more likely go undiagnosed. Sufferers may feel nervous, anxious, or aggravated in groups because they only hear pieces of the conversation. They may feel excluded and may even begin to exclude themselves from social activities to avoid the stress. Trying to compensate for these stresses can be exhausting, and the exhaustion is worsened if the sufferer doesn’t recognize hearing loss as the cause.

Who does hearing loss affect?

Even though hearing loss affects all age groups, it is often seen as “just another sign of getting older.” However, unlike hearing loss, other health issues associated with aging such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, and changes in vision are readily investigated and treated physicians.

By comparison, hearing loss is much harder to identify. In a quiet exam room, a physician may not notice any hearing issues. Aside from obvious anomalies of the ear canal or the eardrum, most hearing loss leaves no visible symptoms. And most hearing loss is gradual in onset, so a patient may not be able to give a timeline of symptoms.

What are the effects of hearing loss?

Though it often goes undiagnosed, hearing loss is not an isolated problem. The Better Hearing Institute reported that, after headaches, hearing loss is the second most common health problem in the United States.

The effects of hearing loss vary from person to person, and the adjustment to hearing loss is a unique experience. Hearing loss can cause many problems for a sufferer, and these effects can go beyond decreased loudness or clarity of speech and sounds.

This inability to communicate effectively can lead to feelings of embarrassment, frustration, anger, defeat, and, ultimately, withdrawal from social situations. These experiences among those with hearing loss are, unfortunately, all too common.

Additionally, hearing loss in the presence of other limitations such as mobility, visual, or cognitive changes associated with aging may result in depression and self-isolation.

A number of studies have demonstrated the considerable negative health effects due to untreated hearing loss, such as:

  • Social anxiety
  • Psychological concerns
  • Cognitive concerns

Though it may seem to be a common or even inevitable health issue, hearing loss is often much more harmful than we believe.

Diagnosing Hearing Loss

Since a person with hearing loss is usually the last to recognize the problem, many people who need evaluation never seek it. They instead invent excuses; friends and family are often accused of mumbling or talking under their breath.

Many others are aware that their hearing has deteriorated, but are reluctant to seek help. They may choose to ignore their hearing loss because they are anxious about wearing a hearing aid.

Some people are embarrassed about the perception of wearing hearing aids, or they believe they can “get by” without them. Unfortunately, the stigma of hearing loss is so strong that many people will wait years or even decades before seeking treatment for hearing problems.

So where should a person start if they perceive they are having hearing problems? Your primary care physician can discuss your hearing concerns with you and determine if the hearing problem is caused by any physical anomalies.

If none are detected, the physician can refer you to an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. If physical anomalies are detected, your primary care physician can refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist). Both an audiologist and otolaryngologist can determine the best course of action for your hearing problem.

Getting Help for Hearing Loss

Are you having problems with your hearing? Get the treatment you need. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about hearing loss, and contact Yankton Medical Clinic today to schedule an appointment if you have concerns about your hearing!


Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health issues in the United States, but many people still have trouble identifying that they have it. The symptoms of hearing loss can be difficult to detect, and this can leave people who are losing their hearing confused and anxious. There are some telltale sign of hearing loss, though, and identifying them is the first step in finding help for a loss of hearing.