Hearing loss can happen gradually—you may not even realize it’s happening at first. The average person waits seven years after first experiencing a loss of hearing before seeking help. If you’re concerned about hearing loss, here’s how to recognize the symptoms and receive a proper diagnosis.

Common Symptoms

If you often have to ask people to repeat what they’ve said or can’t follow conversations, your hearing could be the problem. You might also find yourself turning up the volume on the television or struggling to follow the dialogue while at the movies. Maybe you’ve started to avoid locations or situations where you’re struggling to hear or are overwhelmed by the amount of noise, like busy restaurants or family gatherings. If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it might be time to seek help.

Diagnosing Hearing Loss

Your primary care doctor can take an initial look at your ears and test your hearing. He or she might see a blockage, or there might be no visible signs of damage or inflammation. Your primary doctor will most likely refer you to an audiologist and a hearing aid specialist so you can receive hearing services from experts. The audiologist will perform a hearing assessment and consultation to diagnose the problem and discover the right treatment. He or she might recommend you get hearing aids, which will boost your ability to communicate with others.

Wearing Hearing Aids

Hearing aids can help you return to your normal life. You’ll be able to hear in a variety of situations, even noisy restaurants, and you’ll regain a sense of power over your life. You won’t have to pretend you’ve understood someone else during a conversation, and you’ll get back your confidence and ability to communicate. A specialist will fit you with your hearing aids and explain how to put them in, clean them, and change the batteries. They’ll definitely feel uncomfortable at first and you most likely won’t get used to them for several months. You’ll probably wonder why your voice sounds so much louder than other people’s. This is normal with hearing aids and you’ll get used to it. When you first start using the hearing aids, you might want to warn others about the new aids at the start of a conversation. Ask people to look at you while they speak and explain that you’re still adjusting. Everyone will be accommodating during your transition time.

Health Insurance

Most health insurance plans don’t cover hearing aids. You’ll most likely have to pay out of pocket for them, or your insurance provider might offer you a credit towards the total cost. This could save you a good amount of money on this expense. Your plan might cover the full costs of the hearing test and the fittings for the hearing aids. Check with your insurance provider to see what they will cover. If it’s time for you to pick a new plan, compare health insurance quotes and see which plan will cover your hearing needs while also staying cost-effective. Whatever insurance you have, call them and see what they will and won’t cover so you’re prepared for the costs of the exam and the hearing aids before you arrive for your appointment.

Recognizing that you’re experiencing hearing loss can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Look for the common symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, and schedule an appointment with a specialist if you think you might need hearing aids. Get your confidence back by working with a professional.