Have you experienced difficulty communicating, or have you noticed that a loved one is struggling to hear? As the third most prevalent medical condition in the United States, hearing loss affects people of all ages. If there has been difficulty with communication, watch for these common signs of hearing loss in yourself or your loved one.
The first sounds that are affected by hearing loss are high-pitched sounds like the voices of women and children, or the sounds of birds chirping in the park. Maybe you slept through the alarm clock a few too many times this month, or didn’t hear the ringing of the phone. It may be that these sounds occur in a range that you can no longer hear.
Have you stopped listening to music? Does your favorite record sound shallow and lacking in richness and depth? It may be due to a hearing loss, which affects your ability to catch the full spectrum of sound in the music.
One of the earliest signs of hearing loss is struggling to follow conversations. You may be able to hear during one-on-one conversations, if the room is very quiet. However, as soon as you’re in a group, or in a place with a lot of background noise, you may find it difficult to separate important speech sounds from distracting background sounds, and you’ll mishear what’s being said or not hear at all.
In a one-on-one conversation you can often guess at what’s been said, or use facial cues to help you understand. But in background noise, you may struggle to hear many of the consonant sounds that give speech meaning, and even though you can hear the person speaking, following the conversation is almost impossible.
A clear sign of hearing loss that often gets overlooked is social isolation. When you constantly ask people to repeat themselves, you risk annoying them, or facing the embarrassment of answering a question inappropriately because you aren’t able to understand what they’ve said.
It may be easy to blame others for your inability to hear, and think all your friends are mumbling, but more often than not, people choose to stay home rather than facing another strenuous social interaction. Social isolation leads to increased loneliness, anxiety, and even depression, as well as worsening your hearing loss. It also leads to cognitive decline, since your brain isn’t getting enough stimulation to stay healthy.
Has your family been complaining that the TV volume is way too loud? You might be tempted to reach for the volume control to try to help you hear, but ultimately, you’re still straining to hear your favorite show and have to put on the subtitles to be able to follow the plotline. Identifying this as an early sign of hearing loss and seeking treatment is a better option than cranking up the volume (especially because high volumes could cause further damage to hearing!).
As with face-to-face interactions, those with hearing loss may struggle with phone conversations. If in-person conversations are difficult to follow, its not surprising that having a conversation on the phone seems impossible, especially without the ability to read nonverbal cues or the other person’s lips. You can only ask the person on the other end to repeat themselves so many times before you both give up.
Have you noticed a buzzing, whistling, or ringing sound in your ears? You may only notice it when everything around you is completely silent, like when you go to bed at night, or when you get into the car. Tinnitus is a frustrating condition and is an early warning sign of hearing loss. In fact, tinnitus and hearing loss often appear concurrently, so if you’ve noticed this ringing sound, it’s time to get your hearing checked.
Are these signs of hearing loss familiar? If you have experienced changes in your hearing abilities, the next step is to visit us at State Hearing and Audiology for a hearing test. We provide comprehensive hearing tests to determine your current hearing abilities. If a hearing loss is detected, our team of audiologists will work with you to find the best device for your lifestyle and unique hearing needs, giving you the freedom of effortless communication and great hearing.