Diagnosing hearing loss

With one in six Australians living with hearing loss, it’s important to know the signs so you can help people find treatment earlier rather than later.

There are many causes of hearing loss. Whether its triggered by infection, illness, loud noise exposure, ageing or genetics, all types of hearing loss have an impact on people’s lives.

In babies and children, it can lead to issues with speech and language development. For older patients, it can cause feelings of social isolation and a lack of independence that contribute to depression and anxiety. Recommending regular hearing checks is important to ensure you can diagnose it early. 

People who need a check

While everyone should have their hearing assessed regularly, some people are more at risk than others. Many forms of hearing loss are gradual and can go undetected for a long time, so it’s particularly important that you recommend a hearing test to any patients who fall in the below categories:

  • Young children who haven’t gone through the newborn screening test
  • Children with an ear infection, such as glue ear, that has lasted for more than three months
  • People with long-term exposure to loud noises such as musicians, construction workers, veterans
  • Anyone over 60 years of age, as part of their regular health check-up 

Early signs

Knowing what to look out for means you can also detect hearing loss in any patients that fall outside of these groups. If they comment on the following symptoms, they may have a hearing loss.

  • Hearing sound/speech but not comprehending it completely
  • Finding it harder to understand people in noisy situations or groups
  • Difficulty understanding people unless they are facing them
  • Feeling like people are always mumbling
  • Missing everyday sounds, like a ringing phone or doorbells
  • Others complaining that they turn up the volume on the TV or music too loud

Testing

Children should be assessed for illness or infection before further steps are taken. If that is ruled out they should be referred to a specialist, such as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. It’s incredibly important that parents take action quickly if you suspect a hearing loss.

Teens and adults with general enquiries can take the online Hearing YES test. It’s free and can be done at their home or in the doctor’s office. While it’s not a direct replacement for an in-depth check, it can give patients an idea of how their hearing compares to others. For more serious cases, they should be referred to a hearing centre or audiologist.

Senior adults can also take the online Hearing YES test and be referred to a specialist for an in-depth hearing check should their hearing appear below standard.

Australian Hearing offers free hearing checks for adults and children under 25 at our centres located across the country. To find a centre near you, or for any other advice on referring patients, feel free to contact us.