Understanding Hearing Loss

How We Hear

The Outer Ear
The Middle Ear
The Inner Ear
Auditory Nerve
Neural Auditory Processing

How Do I Know if I Have a Hearing Problem?

Approximately 15% of American adults 18 years of age and older report some trouble hearing with more than 25% of those 65 and older reporting disabling hearing loss. (Reference: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing)

You may have hearing loss if:

  • You hear people speaking but you have to strain to understand their words.
  • You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
  • You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story or the punch line.
  • You frequently complain that people mumble.
  • You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
  • You play the TV or radio louder than your friends, spouse and relatives.
  • You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
  • You find that looking at people when they speak to you makes it easier to understand

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see an audiologist to get an audiological evaluation. An audiological evaluation allows the audiologist to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss and tells the audiologist how well or how poorly you understand speech, especially speech in noise.  After all, speech is the single most important sound, and the ability to understand it is extremely important. The audiological evaluation also includes a thorough case history as well as visual inspection of the ear canals and eardrum. The results will help direct the management and treatment of your hearing loss which may include referral to a physician if the audiologist suspects the hearing loss may be treated with medical or surgical alternatives.


    Take a few moments to print out and complete the Hearing Handicap Inventory, which will help you to better understand your hearing loss and the impact of the hearing loss on your daily communication activities.

    Hearing Handicap Inventory Screening Questionnaire & Interpreting the Score

Hearing Loss Prevention

Sudden or prolonged exposure to noise can cause damage to your hearing and is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss from prolonged exposure to hazardous noise can be prevented and/or reduced through education, the use of hearing protection, and reduced exposure time.

Hearing loss from exposure to hazardous noise is cumulative, that is, it builds up over time and one may not even notice the problem for years. But the loss incurred from repeated exposure is permanent and much of it can be prevented or reduced if you know how. Just like the use of sunscreen helps reduce the impact of the sun’s harmful rays on our skin and preserves good skin health, knowing what can be done to reduce the harmful effects of everyday hazardous noise exposure is important for long-term hearing health.

It is important that the type of protection you use is comfortable in the ear for short and long periods of time and has the highest possible noise reduction rating (NRR).

Our clinic offers a number of hearing loss prevention services including:

  • Custom made hearing protection for hunters, military members, laborers in noisy environments, car race fans, or others regularly in loud environments.
  • Custom monitors for musicians or mobile phone use.
  • Custom swim molds for children and adults who are susceptible to ear infections.
READERS' PICK Best Audiology Practice
“Best Audiologist,” Best of Bethesda Readers Poll, Bethesda Magazine
“Best Audiologist,” Best of Bethesda Readers Poll, Bethesda Magazine