Can You Hear the Holiday Cheer?

Hearing loss detectable in social gatherings like holiday parties

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you're the only one not laughing at Uncle Fred's latest joke at the dinner table this holiday, it might be time to make an appointment to have your hearing checked.

The most common form of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss, caused when a person is exposed to very loud noise for too long.

One of the most common symptoms is being able to hear people talking in a social setting - but not being able to make out what they actually said.

"If you can't hear what people are saying in social settings, get your hearing tested."

Holiday parties and family get-togethers offer more opportunities than the rest of the year to notice that you're having trouble understanding conversations or for a family member to observe you're asking "What was that?" a few too many times.

According to Dr. John House, president of the House Research Institute which researches hearing loss and helps people who have related hearing disorders, it sometimes takes people several years of noticing changes in their hearing before they actually go to a doctor for testing.

 Often it's a loved one who encourages a person to get a hearing test.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that nearly three quarters of the 36 million American adults who suffer from hearing loss have lost their hearing gradually through too much exposure to loud sound.

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when a person hears sound at 85 decibels or higher for too long, which damages the sensory hair cells inside the inner ear.

Though it's preventable, this form of hearing loss usually happens painlessly over time and is permanent. Whether it's from repeated exposure to loud sounds like machinery or music or from a one-time event like hearing gunfire at close range, noise-induced hearing loss makes it difficult for a person to hear higher frequency sounds, so they may have trouble engaging in conversations if they miss key words.

A person who experiences any form of hearing loss, no matter how slight, should make an appointment with their family doctor to get a hearing test because some forms of hearing loss besides noise-induced are treatable with surgery.

Early detection gives a patient more awareness of the treatment options that might help them.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 19, 2011
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013