There are a number of ways in which an individual may become aware of auditory impairment. A doctor can run a hearing test and combine that with questions about the types of symptoms you've been experiencing. Both a physical examination and a screening of your ability to hear can be used to diagnoseose not just the presence of auditory impairment but the cause behind it. Sometimes the cause is of a permanent nature (noise related loss) and sometimes temporary (such as earwax blockage). If you suspect you are not able to hear as well as you should be able to, you should see your doctor for an exam.
Sometimes poor results on a hearing test can be traced back to excessive earwax. For most people, gently cleaning their ears in the shower is enough to prevent this type of blockage. But some people produce much more than others and it can create a problem. If there is enough wax in the ears to block the inner ear canal, your ability to hear will be severely compromised. This leads many to seek out home remedies for removal, but this can be risky in and of itself. If using drops or a flushing bulb, follow the directions on the box explicitly. Do not use any other methods, such as candling or trying to physically pick out the wax.
Sometimes a hearing test can be the first step to determining the presence of an infection. Ear infections are much more common in children, but they can show up in adults as well. A doctor will be able to easily note the presence of infection simply by looking into your ear with an otoscope. This device, of course, will also allow the doctor to see if there has been any trauma or injury to the eardrum or elsewhere in the inner ear. This can also cause issues with a person's ability to hear. Unfortunately, causes of this nature are not always temporary.
If your hearing test shows signs of impairment, it could have nothing to do with a specific, current problem, but rather a symptom of progressive auditory loss. This loss can come about as a result of noise damage or simply as a function of getting older. In either case, there is undoubtedly to be any surgical or medicinal cure for the problem. However, there are things you can do to improve your ability to function. Listening aids and other devices can help you cope with diminished ear function.