Primary care providers may not always be able to detect hearing loss because they may not consider hearing loss as the underlying cause of symptoms, especially if they are not aware of the patient’s hearing history. During a typical medical appointment, doctors have limited time to conduct a thorough examination, which may not include a comprehensive hearing evaluation.
Additionally, assessment of hearing ability by patient report alone may result in failure to detect hearing loss, given the low correlation between perceived and measured hearing ability. Patients may also feign or exaggerate hearing loss for personal reasons, which can further complicate diagnosis. If a primary care provider suspects hearing loss, they may refer the patient to an otolaryngologist or audiologist for more specific tests and treatment.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss Overlap with Other Conditions
Symptoms of hearing loss can overlap with other conditions, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Some common symptoms of hearing loss include muffling of speech and other sounds, trouble understanding words, especially in noisy places, needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio, and asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly.
However, these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, such as acoustic neuroma, which is a noncancerous tumor that can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and dizziness.
Additionally, hidden hearing loss, which can occur even when standard hearing tests show normal hearing, can be missed during routine medical appointments. If you suspect you have hearing loss, it is important to see an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine the cause of your symptoms.
Consequences of Undiagnosed Hearing Loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can have several consequences. It can lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety, frustration, and fatigue. It can also affect cognitive function and increase the risk of developing dementia. In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk, moderate loss tripled risk, and people with severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Untreated hearing loss can affect communication and relationships with family and friends, as well as job performance and safety. It is important to seek treatment for hearing loss to improve quality of life and prevent potential complications.
Get Your Hearing Tested Today
Regular hearing evaluations with a hearing healthcare professional are important for several reasons. Hearing can change over time, and regular evaluations can help detect changes in hearing and ensure that hearing aids or other treatments are adjusted accordingly. Additionally, regular hearing tests can help diagnose medical conditions that may be causing hearing loss, such as ear infections or tumors. Early detection and treatment of these conditions can prevent further hearing loss and other complications. Regular hearing evaluations can also help protect hearing health and overall wellness. It is recommended that adults get their hearing tested at least once every ten years up to age 50, and then every three years thereafter. Contact us today.