If you have hearing loss, you would think it would be obvious, right?
Well, that’s precisely the problem; many people believe it would. Unfortunately, while severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate gradual hearing loss can be far too subtle to observe. That’s why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the beginning of symptoms to search for help.
Imagine hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s difficult to perceive the day-to-day changes, and it’s only when the tire becomes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you decide to take action.
Unfortunately, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to a degree recovered, but the earlier you treat your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recover.
So how can you identify the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? The following are several of the hidden signs that suggest you should consider a hearing assessment.
1. Trouble hearing certain sounds
Frequently people assume that hearing loss impacts all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.
Do not get stuck into this mode of thinking. The reality is that hearing loss primarily impacts higher-frequency sounds. You may notice that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for example, due to the higher pitch.
This may possibly lead you to believe that the individuals you can’t hear are mumbling, when the reality is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Depending on context to comprehend speech
Someone is talking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying until you turn around and face them. You are forced to rely on body language, and possibly lip reading, for extra information to fill in the blanks.
Speech is comprised of an assortment of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The problem for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants impart the most meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.
If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is comparable to reading a sentence with missing letters. Normally, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself responding inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves constantly. You might also experience difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in busy settings
With mild hearing loss, you can normally decipher what others are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is introduced, however, the task usually becomes overwhelming.
You may find that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like at restaurants or social gatherings. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it exceptionally difficult to focus on any one source of sound.
4. Listening Fatigue
Finally, you may observe that you’re more tired than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For those with hearing loss, the chronic battle to hear, together with the effort to comprehend incomplete sounds, can lead to serious exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is gradual and becomes more difficult to treat the longer you delay. If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only minor, we strongly encourage arranging a hearing test. By acting sooner, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.