MHLbannersmallRiverside Medical Group specialists offer some thoughts on hearing

Do you find that you frequently ask people to repeat themselves? Is it difficult to follow a conversation, either live or on a TV show? Does it seem that people are speaking more softly than they used to or mumbling more? Do you have trouble picking up on the conversation when there is background noise such as that in restaurants?

Is there a perception that it's becoming more difficult to hear higher-pitched sounds like children's and female voices and that the sound "S" and "F" become harder to distinguish? Have friends or family members told you – after you've said "what?" again – that you should have your hearing checked?

ListeningIf you answered yes to any of those questions, and if you did there's a good chance you answered in the affirmative to more than one, you're not alone.

Hearing loss is the third most commonly reported health problem in the U.S. and it's on the rise. And when hearing loss deteriorates it can affect everything from your safety to your quality of life and your relationships.

That's because hearing is an essential sense. As it declines, whether due to aging, noise exposure, disease, or trauma we have an extraordinary ability to compensate for the loss. You make an effort to listen more attentively, you focus on the speaker's face and visual cues, you position yourself in the front of the meeting room, or you may even cup your hand around your ear. Often you may hear a friend say that they hear, but just don't understand what is being said. Or you may say or think that yourself.

Hearing loss is something that affects each individual in different ways depending on the degree and type of loss as well as the communication situations to which people are exposed on a daily basis.

What's important to keep in mind is that hearing loss is not just associated with increasing age. Many of today's teenagers are exposed to high levels of noise through a variety of mediums, ranging from marching bands and drum lines to concerts and the frequent use of ear buds with iPods and phones during workouts or when studying.

If you have concerns regarding your hearing, the first thing to do is consult your Primary Care Provider to rule out any medical contraindications, and then schedule a complete hearing evaluation. For more information you can call ENT Physicians & Surgeons, a Riverside Medical Group practice, at (757) 599-5505.