My friends and my family get frustrated with something I think is a bad habit, but they think may be a medical problem. Here’s what happens: someone tries to get my attention, and I either don’t hear them or don’t listen to them. Sometimes I think it’s because I’m distracted, or because I’m focused on something very intensely. Other times I really don’t hear them. That has led to multiple people telling me to get my hearing checked, but I’m not so sure that’s right: I usually don’t need the TV to be really loud, for instance, and I can hear just fine when I’m at the movies or while listening to music. Besides, I’m not old, or anything. How can I tell what the real problem is?
Hearing issues are far from uncommon, say physicians at the New Jersey Center for Audiology. About 20% of us report having some degree of hearing loss. And you’re not necessarily exempt from such issues just because you are young: while hearing loss is common among older folks, it’s also increasingly common in younger people, and may affect as many as 17% of teenagers.
But it’s impossible to diagnose you from just a letter, and it’s also possible that you have other issues that are leading to your repeated issue, suggest practitioners at Hillsboro, Oregon’s Neighborhood Health Center. You could have attention issues, for instance.
There’s one good way to find out for sure, of course: you could head to the doctor. That’s exactly what you should do! Ask your primary care physician for his or her opinion, and see what they think–they may send you on to a specialist who can tell you more about your hearing, or they may ask more questions and suggest tests that will give them a better idea of what exactly is going on. (If you don’t yet have a primary care physician, now is the time to get one–consult with your insurance provider to find a physician in your area.)
You may find that your issue can be helped with assistive devices or other treatments. Or you may find that you have an attention disorder of some kind. You may even find that you really do just have a “bad habit” as you describe it, in which case you may want to consider what else you can do. Some studies suggest that meditation can make us more present and aware, for instance. Or maybe you just need to turn down the TV a bit so that you can hear when people are calling you!
“When someone in the family has a hearing loss, the entire family has a hearing problem.” — Mark Ross, Ph.D.