What are the Signs of Hearing Loss?

What are the Signs of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss and tinnitus affect nearly 48 million Americans. Seniors, adults, teenagers, and even children can have hearing loss caused by an illness or injury, as a result of aging, or from exposure to dangerously loud sounds. Do you think you might have hearing loss? Watch for the signs of hearing loss and pay close attention to any changes in your hearing health.

Changes in Communication

If you have hearing loss, you’ve likely experienced a breakdown in communication, both in person and on the phone. You and your loved ones will get frustrated during conversations, and you may have more arguments than usual. Hearing loss affects high frequency sounds first, and you’ll struggle to make sense of consonant sounds in speech. Do you struggle to hear what’s being said? If you think the people around you are speaking too softly or are mumbling, you probably have a hearing loss. As your hearing changes, you ask your friends to repeat themselves, and often mishear what they’ve said. These changes in communication are a clear sign of hearing loss.

Struggling to Hear Your Grandchildren

Hearing loss affects high pitches first, and if you have young children or grandchildren, you may struggle to make sense of what they’ve said. Their high-pitched voices make it even more difficult to hear the words they’re saying, and they often speak very quickly. If you have hearing loss, you could be missing out on some of the most important relationships in your life.

Difficulty Hearing in Background Noise

Do you struggle to hear in crowded places like restaurants or music venues? Hearing loss makes it far more difficult to get a complete picture of the sounds around you, and you’ll have a hard time separating important speech sounds from distracting background noise. The background sounds will intrude into what you’re trying to focus on, and you’ll have difficulty hearing in noisy environments.

Avoiding Social Activities

If you’ve been having difficulty hearing in group settings, you may start avoiding social activities. It becomes increasingly difficult to hear what someone across the table is saying, and you feel embarrassed when you ask your friends to repeat themselves, or when you completely mishear what’s been said. When several people are talking at once, such as during a family dinner, it can be even more difficult to enjoy social activities. Last year you’d eagerly meet friends for a drink at your favorite bar, but if you’ve been choosing to stay home rather than attend social activities, you may have hearing loss.

Turning Up the Volume

An early warning sign of hearing loss is turning up the volume on the TV, phone audio, or car stereo. Your family may complain that the volume is very high and might stop watching TV with you. Have you stopped going to the movie theatre because you can’t hear what’s being said on screen? Turning up the volume and avoiding the movie theatre are clear signs of hearing loss. If you’ve been dialing it up, you should test your hearing.

Missing Alarms

How many times have you slept through your alarm in the past month, and been late to work or missed an important meeting? Another sign of hearing loss is failing to hear alarms, such as your alarm clock, or the dinging of the microwave or stove alarm. You may also forget to turn off the signal lights when you’re driving because you’re unable to hear the indicator clicking. Missing alarms is a clear sign of hearing loss, and you should test your hearing.

Making Mistakes at Work

Hearing loss can have a profound impact on your job performance, and if you have a hearing loss you could be making mistakes at work. When you’re not able to clearly hear instructions, fully participate in group briefings, or catch all the important details, you could make some costly mistakes that will affect your position at work, or even jeopardize your job.

If any of these signs of hearing loss sound familiar, get your hearing checked right away! Ignoring the signs of hearing loss won’t change the facts, and the symptoms of hearing loss will continue to interfere with your life. Do the right thing for your ears and your relationships, and watch for these signs of hearing loss.

Seeing an Audiologist? Bring a Companion

One of the first steps for people experiencing hearing loss in Los Angeles is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. This is bound to cause a little anxiety, especially if it’s your first visit and you are unsure of what to expect. Bringing a companion with you is perfectly okay; in fact, your Los Angeles hearing professional encourages this.

Hearing Loss is a Family Affair

family sitting around the table

Hearing loss affects roughly one out of every five Los Angeles residents. Symptoms usually develop gradually, making it hard to recognize a problem. Often, a family member or close friend is the first to notice. It’s important to see a hearing specialist at the first sign of trouble; untreated hearing loss can have a significant impact on your physical, social and psychological health. The list of complications is extensive and includes anxiety, isolation, withdrawal, depression, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease and an increased risk of falls.

You might have the mistaken impression that you are the only one  affected by your hearing loss, but this simply is not true. A 2009 study of 1,500 people with hearing loss illustrates the effect their impairment had on others:

  • 44 percent experienced a deterioration in relationships with a spouse, partner, friends and other family members
  • 34 percent lost touch with friends or had their marriage end because of communication issues directly related to their hearing loss
  • 69 percent said hearing loss made it difficult to participate in daily conversations
  • More than half felt excluded from social activities

Having a companion join you for your hearing appointment will prove extremely helpful to both you and your audiologist. A spouse, partner, or close friend familiar with your impairment will lend you the emotional support needed during a difficult time and they will be able to provide insight into the extent of your hearing loss – information that will help your audiologist gauge the full impact of your impairment and help them find an appropriate treatment solution.

If you are experiencing hearing difficulties and haven’t yet made an appointment, call a hearing specialist in Los Angeles today. And be prepared to bring along a companion!

Mumps Can Cause Hearing Loss

The most common causes of hearing loss in Los Angeles are aging and noise exposure. They are hardly the only culprits, however; many other factors can contribute to long-term damage. One of them has been making headlines recently after a couple of well-publicized outbreaks – and it is completely preventable!

The Dangers of Viral Infections

person in a hospital bed with an IV

Mumps and other viral infections such as measles and rubella not only produce unpleasant physical symptoms; they can also lead to hearing loss. While rare, it’s still something to think about if you are on the fence about immunizing your child.

Mumps was considered all but eradicated until right around the year 2000, when the number of cases began to climb after decades of decline. The trend has accelerated in recent years, with the number of confirmed cases jumping from 1,000 in 2015 to over 6,000 in the ensuing years. Another bout in Washington state last January has public health officials cautioning parents to have their children vaccinated in order to help prevent the spread of a disease that can be successfully prevented.

Like many respiratory infections, mumps is highly contagious; it is usually transmitted from person to person through infected saliva spread by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms show up about two weeks after exposure and include swollen salivary glands on one or both sides of the face; pain when chewing or swallowing; headache; fever; muscle aches; weakness; fatigue and loss of appetite.

Occasionally, mumps can lead to rare but serious complications such as inflammation of the testicles, ovaries, breasts, pancreas and brain; fluid buildup around the brain and spinal cord and hearing loss.

How Does Mumps Cause Hearing Loss?

Nobody is completely sure how mumps can lead to hearing loss, but experts think the virus can attack the cochlea, causing damage to the tiny hair cells responsible for hearing. The auditory nerve, brainstem and stria vascularis – an important source of blood supply to the inner ear – are all susceptible to attack from mumps.

Hearing loss contracted from mumps typically affects only one ear. Unfortunately, because damage usually occurs to the inner ear, this type of hearing loss is permanent. The good news is, only about one to four percent of people who are infected with mumps will develop hearing loss in Los Angeles.

The best way to prevent hearing loss resulting from mumps (or measles and rubella) is to have your child immunized. The MMR vaccine protects against all three diseases and has a demonstrated history of being both safe and effective. Typically, a child will receive their first immunization between 12 and 15 months of age, with a booster when they are four to six years older and another one in their teen years. Children who receive the full round of immunizations enjoy the greatest protection from mumps.

For more information on preventing hearing loss and protecting your long-term health, feel free to speak to a Los Angeles audiologist any time.

The Price You Pay for Hearing Loss

Patients with hearing loss in Los Angeles already contend with many side effects related to their condition. It turns out the impact of their condition isn’t limited to physical, psychological and social factors; it can also affect their bank accounts, as well.

Hidden Costs of Hearing Loss

pile of cash

A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health followed 77,000 patients who were suspected of having untreated hearing loss, analyzing their health care costs over pre-determined intervals of two, five and ten years. All participants were enrolled in either private health plans or Medicaid Advantage between 1999-2016. Results were clear: people with untreated hearing loss in Los Angeles can expect to pay an incredible $22,434 more in medical costs over a typical ten-year period than individuals with normal hearing.

This discrepancy in health care costs is noticeable as soon as two years following diagnosis. At this point in the study, participants were on the hook for health care costs averaging 26 percent higher than those incurred by their normal-hearing peers. The disparity climbs even higher; by year ten, medical costs are 46 percent higher. While insurance coverage does reduce the overall financial burden, out-of-pocket costs for these patients still average about $2,030 higher.

The cost isn’t only measured in dollars and cents. People with hearing loss in Los Angeles will have twice as many hospital stays, 44 percent more hospital readmissions within the first 30 days of discharge, 17 percent more ER visits and 52 more outpatient visits than people who have normal hearing.

What is the Link Between Hearing Loss and Higher Costs?

Researchers aren’t completely sure of the link between hearing loss and higher medical costs, but several well-established theories help shed a little light on the connection. Hearing loss is associated with a variety of health problems running the gamut from loneliness and depression to diabetes, kidney disease, memory impairment and dementia. Treatment for these and other conditions resulting from hearing loss is costly. Another factor that likely contributes: those with poor hearing may have trouble communicating with their health care professional about the symptoms they are experiencing, meaning they may not receive the treatment needed.

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, early treatment is the best way to prevent health complications down the road – and is sure to save you money, too. Talk with your Los Angeles audiologist to learn about solutions.


Can Balloons Cause Hearing Loss?

Bill Hodgetts and Dylan Scott have been to their fair share of children’s birthday parties. As hearing experts from the University of Alberta, they are trained to look at the world from a researcher’s perspective. It was at one of these parties where they found themselves wondering how loud the pop of a party balloon really is.

How Loud is a Balloon Pop?

balloon bouquets

To answer this question, Hodgetts and Scott had to go to the source. They went to their local party supply store and bought a standard bag of balloons. They then ran a series of experiments and measured the results.

Blown up balloons that were popped by a pin measured 155 dB. Those popped by hand measured 159 dB. The loudest pop came from a balloon that was inflated until it popped. At close range, the sound of this balloon rupturing measured 168 dB, louder than the blast of a pistol (167 dB) or a 12-gauge shotgun (162 dB).

How Loud is Too Loud?

Alright, so now that we know how loud the pop of a balloon can be, what does that mean?

As your Los Angeles audiologist explains it, sounds are measured in decibels. Anything over 85 dB can cause noise-induced hearing loss. To put this in perspective:

  • Exposure to sound over 85 dB (busy Manchester traffic) can cause damage within 8 hours
  • Exposure to sound over 100 dB (chainsaw) can cause damage within 15 minutes
  • Exposure to sound over 120 dB (jackhammer) can cause damage instantly

Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common (behind only hearing loss related to normal aging) and most preventable type.

Your Manchester hearing specialists estimate that 15 percent of individuals in New Hampshire and around the country between the ages of 20 and 69 are experiencing hearing loss that is the result of exposure to excessive noise either at work or through recreational activities.

What Do the Results Mean?

You are probably asking yourself, what do these results actually mean? Hodgetts and Scott don’t think their results will lead to the demise of the party balloon industry, but they are hoping they can help spread awareness.

If anything, you can teach your children how to handle balloons safely. This can prevent an accidental popping, which can put them at risk of damaging their hearing.

To learn more about protecting yourself or your children from noise-induced hearing loss, contact your Los Angeles audiologist.