Hearing Loss: What You Need To Know Now


Are you always asking people to repeat what they just said?


Do people often ask you to turn down the volume when you’re watching TV or listening to music?


Do you have an especially hard time figuring out what people are saying when you are in a noisy room?  Or when you can’t see someone’s face – like when you’re talking on the telephone?


Have you noticed that you have a really tough time hearing “t,” “s” and “d” sounds?


If you answered yes to any one of the questions above, it’s time to get your hearing tested.


About 36 million Americans have hearing loss, and it is the third most common health problem in the U.S.

What Causes Hearing Loss?


We tend to associate hearing problems with the natural process of aging, but one in three cases of permanent hearing loss is caused by exposure to noise. Other issues that may decrease a person’s ability to hear include inner ear damage, a ruptured ear drum, trauma to the skull, earwax buildup, along with ear and sinus infections.


Illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can lead to hearing loss Children sometimes experience hearing loss, usually temporary, following repeated ear infections.


There are over a hundred types of medications (ototoxic medicine) that can cause hearing loss. These medications include aspirin (in large does- 8 to 12 pills a day), ibuprofen and naproxen, some antibiotics, some diuretics, and medicines to treat cancer. If you are taking an ototoxic drug and notice ringing in your ear and dizziness, check with your doctor.  The symptoms often clear when you stop taking the drug, but may persist if you delay getting care.


Hearing loss can happen so subtly and slowly that you may not even be aware of it. Often family and friends are the first ones to point out that there may be a problem.  The person with the hearing loss only notices the sounds that he or she has been missing after getting tested and receiving medical treatment or a hearing aid.


What Happens During A Hearing Test?


The testing process is easy and painless. Typically it’s not a single test, but several procedures that measure how well you can hear.


The person giving you the test may start by asking you questions about your health and hearing ability. He or she may ask if you are exposed to loud noise at work, if you have ringing in your ears, if you experience dizziness, or have problems listening to conversations in certain types of environments. You will be asked about any health conditions you may have, and any medications you’re taking.


Next, your ear canal and ear drum will be checked using a device called an otoscope to check for ear wax blockages, ear drum perforations and any indication of infection. If any of these problems are spotted, the test may stop and you’ll be referred to a doctor for treatment.


The next test is the pure-tone air-conduction test.  This determines your ability to consistently hear very low tones. You’ll wear earphones and indicate, by pushing a button or raising a finger, when you can hear tones played at different frequencies.


Next up is the bone conduction testing, which checks your inner ear’s hearing ability utilizes the same process as air conduction testing. This time though, the tones are sent to a device placed behind your ear rather than earphones.


During the next test you’ll be asked to repeat a series of short words which will be played at lower and lower volumes.


And that’s it. If your testing shows some hearing loss that can’t be corrected with medical treatment, you may opt to get a hearing aid. If so, you’ll take several tests similar to the above to ensure your hearing aid fits your needs. These tests will gauge things such as the volumes you’re most comfortable with and how well you can hear in a noisy environment.


Does Insurance Cover Hearing Services?


This depends on what type of insurance you have. Some private insurance plans cover testing but not hearing aids, others cover hearing aids alone. Medicaid covers hearing aids for children in some states. Medicare does not cover hearing aids.


Healthcare plans offered under Obamacare on the federal and state exchanges vary in their coverage of hearing tests and aids. Currently twenty-two states include some coverage for hearing aids and related services.


Over 50% of the dental savings plans offered by :DentalPlans.com offer savings on a range of healthcare services, including hearing and vision. If you’re interested in a dental savings plan that includes hearing care, call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.

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