Do you notice you have to turn up the volume on your TV in order to hear the dialog in your favorite show? When your son calls on the phone, do you find yourself asking him to repeat what he just said because you didn’t catch it all? These can be indications of early hearing loss and mean it’s time to schedule a hearing test.

Hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities in elderly people, affecting about one-third of people over the age of 65, according to the American Academy of Neurology. Peripheral age-related hearing loss is caused by problems in how the inner ear and hearing nerves function and leads to people not being able to hear.

Lanie Tandy, a hearing instrument specialist with All American Hearing in Redmond, advises that anyone over the age of 60, or sooner if they are experiencing particular symptoms, should schedule an appointment for an assessment of their hearing.

Symptoms of hearing loss include trouble understanding speech. You may be hearing what someone is saying but you are having difficulty understanding them clearly. You may find when you are in a noisy room, or there is a lot of background noise, you have trouble understanding what the person you are listening to is saying. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is annoying and can also indicate hearing issues.

Do you find yourself more frequently asking people to repeat what they just said? Is it becoming more difficult to hear when you are talking on the phone? You may need to adjust the volume on the television or when you are on your computer in a Zoom meeting. Any one or more of these situations could be indicating a loss of hearing.

“If hearing loss is not addressed early on, one runs the risk of permanent damage to the auditory system,” according to Tandy. “The longer one goes with an untreated hearing loss, they lose the ability to process the speech that comes in. In that case, we could put the very best hearing devices on that patient’s ears and they will still have limitations based on their decreased speech understanding scores (processing abilities). We can treat the hearing loss most effectively the sooner the patient comes in for help.”

According to Tandy, there is no cost for an exam. However, Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids.

“That’s why we find it really important to offer a large variety of styles and technology levels to meet different budgets,” said Tandy.