According to statistics from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 20 percent of Americans have at least some hearing loss during their lifetime. In people over the age of 65, NIDCD says that statistic increases to 30 percent. Whether your general practitioner recommends seeing an audiologist or you’re considering seeking one out on your own, there are many reasons to see one.

Frequent Ear Infections

If you have a mild ear infection once in a while, your family doctor can treat it as needed. Unfortunately, some people have ear infections or a buildup of fluid in the ear regularly. These issues are especially common in children and can be quite uncomfortable. In these situations, the culprit may be an inner ear disorder that needs specialized treatment outside of what a general practitioner can offer.

Tinnitus or Vertigo

About 50 million people have some form of tinnitus, a disorder that causes symptoms such as ringing, buzzing or whistling in the ears. Because these noises can be continuous and are usually unperceivable by other people, the disorder dramatically affects sufferers’ lives. Tinnitus and vertigo, which causes chronic dizziness and balance issues, may be related to hearing loss or other inner ear issues. An audiologist has the specialized knowledge necessary to determine which disorder someone suffers from, detect hearing loss and treat the problems accordingly.

Excessive Earwax

Although ears are supposed to be self-cleaning, sometimes the earwax doesn’t quite do its job. It is supposed to move from inside the ear canal to your outer ear, removing foreign dirt and objects as it does. Sometimes, though, a person produces too much earwax; other times, using a cotton swab to try to remove wax makes the problem worse. When there is too much earwax, blockage occurs, which can be uncomfortable and painful. An audiologist can use special tools to remove the wax without damaging the ear. He or she can also determine if there is an underlying cause of the buildup that needs to be treated.

Gradual Hearing Loss

People tend to think of hearing loss that only affects the elderly, but the truth is that it can affect people of any age. Some people are born with it, and the Johns Hopkins Institute says that about 15 percent of children under the age of 19 suffer from at least some hearing loss. If you think that you or your child may not be hearing as well as they could, an audiologist can perform tests to determine if there is loss and its extent. From there, he or she can recommend treatment options.

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sometimes, hearing loss is not gradual. If you experience sudden hearing loss, it is important to see an audiologist as soon as possible. Even if you do not experience any pain, suddenly being unable to hear should be considered an emergency, so it is important not to put it on the back burner. Some causes of sudden loss include recently being on an airplane, sneezing too hard or traumatic injury to the ear.

Hearing Aids

Perhaps you already know you have hearing loss and you’ve purchased an assisting device from an outside source. Although these can be very helpful for mild loss, it is best to see an audiologist if you need a hearing aid. The specialist will be able to determine how severe the problem is and help you to find a customized hearing aid that fits your ear well and better assists your specific type of loss. There are several types of damage, so you may need a different kind of treatment.

People with common hearing loss may watch TV or listen to music at a louder volume than they used to or may have trouble hearing people in noisy environments. They may feel as if people are mumbling, not like to talk on the phone or even avoid social situations for fear of embarrassment.

People who have high-frequency hearing loss may not notice symptoms at first. In these cases, they may have trouble understand the voices of women or young children and may not hear beepers on microwaves or other electronics. People who have high-frequency loss might also have trouble hearing certain consonant sounds, including “sh” and “th” sounds.

Overall Well-Being

Earwax buildup, hearing loss, and other ear problems can lower your quality of life. Even if you do not notice any issues, you should have an annual checkup with an audiologist. Doing so may catch any problems early, making them easier to treat. While your general practitioner will check your ears for wax during a checkup, an audiologist better understands hearing test procedures can provide more in-depth exams to ensure your ears are as healthy as they can be.

Whether you have never experienced an ear issue in your life or you are sure you have some type of hearing loss, visiting an audiologist at least once per year is essential for your overall physical and mental health. If you are ready to see a Houston hearing specialist, we can help. Contact Memorial Hearing to schedule your appointment.