Hearing loss has a tendency to creep up on you. Most people are unaware that they have any kind of problem until they have an advanced condition or a loved one insists on a hearing test. Early detection of hearing loss allows me a broader range of treatment options and resources to help prevent additional damage. As a part of my commitment to providing Northern Alabama with the best possible hearing healthcare, I have put together some common early signs of hearing loss to help you decide if you need a hearing test.

Frequently Asking Others to Repeat What They Said

If “what did you say?” is a common statement, especially in a busy restaurant or a crowded room, it could be an early sign of hearing loss. Difficulty hearing conversations, especially when it comes to understanding women or children, who speak at higher frequencies, is a very common hearing loss indicator. Unfortunately, the habit of asking others to repeat themselves becomes such a regular part of conversations that most people don’t recognize its frequency and have to rely on family and friends to point it out.

Frustration with Phone Conversations

If you hate communicating with others over the phone, it could mean that you are having trouble hearing them. We use a lot of visual cues when speaking face to face, but those cues all disappear when we use the phone. Eliminating the visual element of conversation forces us to rely only on sound alone, making phone conversations frustrating.

A World Full of Mumblers

It is true that not all people enunciate clearly, but the majority of people do. If it seems as though everyone around you is mumbling, it could be an early sign of hearing loss. Early hearing loss issues include an increased difficulty identifying consonants in words, making it difficult to sort out one vowel-loaded word from another. People who talk fast add to this problem exponentially.

Remote Control Dependency

He who holds the remote control holds all power. Although demanding and abusing the power of the remote control is not always an indicator of hearing loss, if you have developed a dependency on the TV remote, especially to turn up the volume, it could be an indicator of impaired hearing. Turning up the volume on the radio, cell phone, and other audio-related electronics as well as the TV are good indicators of hearing loss, especially if loved ones are complaining about it.

Headaches and Fatigue

Frequent headaches and fatigue are common symptoms to a variety of health conditions, but they can also help identify hearing loss. If engaging others in conversation is a regular part of your work or daily activities, then headaches and fatigue could mean that you are struggling with your hearing. Increased straining to keep up with the conversations around you can cause stress, fatigue, and headaches as you concentrate on filling in the blanks you are not hearing.

Ongoing Ringing or Hissing

When my patients describe tinnitus, they use words such as ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or hissing. Regardless of how you describe it, if the sound is ongoing and never seems to disappear, you could be suffering from a side effect known as tinnitus. Tinnitus causes you to hear sounds that really don’t exist and is a common symptom related to damage from loud noise exposure or age deterioration.

How Can a Hearing Test Help?

Any, several, or all of the scenarios listed above should motivate you to see an audiologist for a formal hearing test. Through a diagnostic evaluation, I can determine the type, nature, and degree of your hearing loss. I will assess your hearing acuity and ability to understand speech and sounds at different volume levels and in various simulated environments. Hearing tests are neither painful nor invasive and they allow me to provide you with the specific treatment you need.

Contact us for additional information concerning the identification of hearing loss in yourself or a loved one, or set up an appointment in either of Alabama Hearing’s Huntsville or Madison County clinics.

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Dr. Jan Liles

Dr. Liles earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo and her master’s degree from the University of Alabama. From 1991 to 2001, she worked with two ENT medical practices and initiated one of the first newborn hearing screening programs in the state. In 2002, she was awarded a doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida. Dr. Liles and her longtime best friend, Dr. Sheehy, founded Alabama Hearing Associates in January 2002.
    Basic Hearing Test

    A basic hearing test begins with an air conduction test. You will be seated in a soundproof booth and single-use, foam earphones will be inserted into your ear canals. The Audiologist will ask you to push a button or raise your hand when you barely hear a series of beeps (tones) presented at various frequencies (pitches) to obtain your air conduction thresholds.

    To determine whether your hearing loss is a conductive (mechanical) loss, sensorineural (permanent) loss or combination of the two, we perform a bone conduction test.  

    For this test, a head band is place on the bone behind one of the ears to obtain your bone conduction thresholds. This process provides a different form of sound transmission using vibration, which bypasses the eardrum and the middle ear bones and directly stimulates the auditory nerve. When you hear the beeps/tones, you will push a button or raise your hand.

    If bone conduction thresholds are better than air conduction thresholds (through the foam inserts), you have a conductive hearing loss. This suggests a problem with the mechanical structures (moving parts) of the ears.

    Conductive hearing loss is often a medically treatable condition for which we will provide you with a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician. However, if bone and air conduction thresholds match, it indicates a sensorineural hearing loss (permanent), and the treatment will likely involve hearing aids.

    ALL INCLUSIVE PLAN

    $6,790

    Comprehensive 5-Year treatment plan with premium technology

    If you want premium “out of this world” technology and the highest level of service and expert support, our All-Inclusive treatment plan is the right investment for you.

    The All-Inclusive treatment plan offers long-term value for your on-the-go lifestyle, providing everything you need to connect with family and friends for years to come.

    Includes:

    • Stellar hearing devices from top manufacturer (rechargeable option available)

    • Wireless accessory included at no charge

    • Comprehensive Annual Visit including hearing assessment, hearing device adjustment, and 19-Point preventative maintenance valutaion

    • Bi-annual hearing aid software update and reprogramming

    • Same day diagnosis and in-office repair during weekdays for devices dropped off before 3:00 p.m.

    • 5-Year full-service repair warranty

    • Unlimited remote hearing aid adjustments

    • 100% moisture removal by Redux and cleaning

    • Hearing aid supplies (stock receivers, batteries, domes and filters)

    • $1000 contribution towards purchase of upgraded technology within 48 months

    • 3-Year replacement warranty for loss or damage (no deductible)

    • Dedicated team of hearing care experts at your service

    • Unlimited teleaudiology appointments

    • Access to our “speed of light” repair specialists

    Schedule Appointment

    Choose Your Level of Technology

    A Comprehensive12-Step Functional Hearing Assessment

    If you struggle to understand conversations in social situations, restaurants, or other noisy environments, you do not need to schedule a basic hearing test. You certainly don’t need to schedule a “free” hearing screening or online hearing test.

    You need to schedule a “Connect 365” Functional Hearing Assessment at Alabama Hearing Associates!

    Hearing Technology with a Methodical Plan

    Our community understands better than most what can be achieved when you combine technology with human intelligence and persistence. It is much the same with hearing technology.

    The latest hearing aid technology is incredibly powerful, offering stellar sound quality and performance. Wireless connections allow phone calls, music and television to stream directly to your hearing aids for exceptional clarity.

    But hearing aids do not fit and program themselves! For best outcomes, you also need the human touch and expertise provided by our Doctors of Audiology.

    How do I know my new hearing aids are working properly?

    Without verifying that the hearing aid is working correctly from the start, all of the other steps in the hearing aid fitting process are useless. The most sensitive quality control measure is something called Electroacoustic Analysis. We complete EAA on every new set of hearing aids, before delivery of repaired devices, and on an annual basis.

    What Is Real-Ear Measurement?

    Real-ear measurement (REM) is how an audiologist knows that hearing aids are working the way they should in each patient’s ears.

    Ears are as unique as a fingerprint. Because of this, every ear will collect sounds differently.

    Even if I had two patients with the exact same hearing loss and hearing aids, there’s almost no chance the hearing aids would be programmed the same way.

    Orientation, Counseling, and Follow-up

    Dr. Cliff (the creator of the Best Practice Pro Network) said it best:

    “Having a detailed orientation can dramatically improve how much success you have with hearing treatment.  Counseling & Follow-up care can also ensure that you have success for years to come.  Regular visits to a hearing care provider who spends the time to discuss treatment related information and who will maintain your devices is extremely important.”

    During the orientation, your provider will give you the tools you need to be a successful hearing aid user. Everyone has different learning styles and we want to make sure whatever works best for you is what’s used. After the 75 day adjustment period, routine checkups are necessary to maintain the hearing aids and to ensure optimal hearing healthcare. 

    Real World Adjustments

    Your hearing loss didn't occur overnight, so it will take some time to adjust to the hearing aids. Your patience and persistence will be well worth it.

    Wireless Connections

    Most hearing aids automatically come with wireless streaming from smartphones and it has been a lifesaver for those that are working remotely and spending hours on teleconferences. As for other wireless accessories, the two most popular solutions are a small microphone used in less-than-ideal listening environments and a TV streamer that streams the TV’s sound directly into your ears—which can be a lifesaver when watching British TV shows or during football season. If your audiologist believes they would be beneficial for you, they will discuss your options and demonstrate the device in the office.

    Assessing Outcomes

    To ensure the most success with your hearing devices, we measure the benefits of amplification at the end of your adjustment period—some of the surveys and tests included in the “Connect 365” Functional Hearing Assessment will be repeated to evaluate progress, quality of life, and patient satisfaction with the hearing aids.