Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss, yet often individuals are completely unaware of any hearing difficulties. This is largely due to the slow progression of most hearing losses, as well as the invisible nature of the hearing loss.
How do you know if you have a hearing loss?
The best way to determine if you have a hearing loss is to schedule an appointment for an audiological evaluation. But there are many early warning signs that may suggest you have a hearing loss. Your answers to the following questions may help:
Do you hear but not understand what people are saying?
Do you frequently ask people to repeat what they have said?
Do you sometimes respond incorrectly, discovering later that you misunderstood the question?
Do you have difficulty hearing when people are not facing you?
Do you prefer the television volume louder than other people in the room?
Do you have difficulty hearing on the telephone?
Do you avoid noisy social situations because you cannot hear?
Do you experience ringing in one or both ears?
Do you often feel people mumble or do not speak distinctly?
Do you experience difficulty hearing in particular situations ( i.e. church, synagogue, meetings, bridge or bingo games, etc.) especially when background noise is present?
If you answered 'yes' to any one of these questions, you may have a hearing loss. Everyone, including individuals with normal hearing, experiences occasional difficulty hearing. But when difficulties occur frequently, it's time to seek help. Call your audiologist and request a hearing evaluation.
Warning signs of hearing loss in children are much different than in adults. Although older children can often tell you when they are unable to hear well, young children may not show obvious symptoms. In fact, it is not uncommon to mistake hearing loss in children for other problems, such as learning disabilities and attention problems. While these conditions may exist together, it is important to rule out hearing loss whenever a child does not follow normal developmental milestones, especially for speech, language and hearing.
How do you know if your child needs a hearing evaluation?
A hearing evaluation is recommended if you answer 'yes' to any of the following questions:
Does your child say "what?" or "huh?" often?
Does your child have difficulty following directions?
Does your child have difficulty paying attention, especially in school?
Does your child sit close to the TV or turn the volume up loud?
Does your child switch ears when talking on the telephone?
Does your child have difficulty understanding when someone is talking to him/her from another room?
Does your child watch the face of the speaker very intently?
Has your child had repeated ear infections?
Additionally, because birth to 3 years of age is an especially critical period for speech and language development, early identification of hearing loss is very important. The table below lists normal developmental milestones for hearing and speech according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association. If your child does not fit into the appropriate range according to his/her age, a hearing evaluation is recommended.
NORMAL HEARING DEVELOPMENT
or cries at noise.
at loud sounds.
activity at a new sound.
to you when you speak.
when spoken to.
to recognize your voice and quiets if crying.
activity to pay attention to an unfamiliar voice.
to "no" and changes in tone of voice.
around for the source of new sounds, e.g., doorbell,
toys that make sounds.
attention to music.
games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.
and looks up when you call his/her name.
when spoken to.
words for common items like "cup," "shoe," "juice."
to respond to requests ("Come here," "Want more?").
to pictures in a book when named.
to a few body parts when asked.
simple commands and understands simple questions ("Roll
the ball," "Kiss the baby," "Where's your shoe?").
to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.
differences in meaning ("go-stop," "in-on," "big-little,"
sounds (telephone ringing, television sounds, knocking
at the door).
two requests ("Get the book and put it on the table").
you when you call from another room.
television or radio at the same loudness level as other
attention to a short story and answers simple questions
who knows child thinks he/she hears well. (teacher,
day care provider, family members)
and understands most of what is said at home and in
NORMAL SPEECH & LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
the same sounds frequently (cooing, gooing).
differently for different needs.
when she sees you.
sounds more speech-like with many different sounds,
including p, b, and m.
you (by sound or gesture) when he/she wants you to
gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with
has both long and short groups of sounds such as "tata
speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention.
Imitates different speech sounds.
1 or 2 words ("bye-bye," "dada," "mama," "no") although
they may not be clear.
more words every month.
some 1-2-word questions ("Where kitty?" "Go bye-bye?" "What's
2 words together ("more cookie," "no juice," "mommy
many different consonant sounds at the beginning of
a word for almost everything.
2-3-word "sentences" to talk about and ask for things.
is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.
asks for or directs attention to objects by naming
about activities at school or at friends' homes.
talks easily without repeating syllables or words.
outside family usually understand child's speech.
a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words.
sounds clear like other children's.
sentences that give lots of details (e.g. "I like to
read my books").
stories that stick to topic.
easily with other children and adults.
most sounds correctly except a few, like l, s, r, v,
z, j, ch, sh, th. Uses adult-like grammar.
Adobe Hearing Center wishes to thank the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for permission to include the above guidelines.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended to be used as a substitute for evaluation, consultation or diagnosis by a licensed physician or licensed audiologist. Further, it is not intended to be all-inclusive. Always consult with your audiologist and primary care physician regarding matters related to your hearing.