If you have hearing loss, you would think it would be obvious, right?
Well, that’s exactly the problem; many people assume it would. However, while severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be too subtle to notice. That’s the reason why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the onset of symptoms to seek out help.
Picture hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s challenging to detect 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, whereas tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to some extent restored, but the sooner you deal with your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll get back.
So how can you discover the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Below are some of the hidden signs that suggest you should get a hearing exam.
1. Difficulties hearing certain sounds
Commonly people think that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you believe you can hear all sounds normally.
Do not get trapped into this mode of reasoning. The reality is that hearing loss predominately affects higher-frequency sounds. You might discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, owing to the higher pitch.
This may lead you to believe that the individuals you can’t hear are mumbling, when the fact is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Depending on context to understand
Someone is talking from behind you and you can’t understand what they’re saying until you turn around and face them. You are forced to depend on body language, and possibly lip reading, for extra information to fill in the blanks.
Speech consists of a wide range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The issue for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants convey the most meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.
If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is just like reading a sentence with missing letters. For the most part, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself replying inappropriately or asking people to repeat themselves frequently. You might also have difficulties hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
With mild hearing loss, you can normally decode what other people are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. As soon as background noise is presented, on the other hand, the task usually becomes overwhelming.
You might find that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like at restaurants or parties. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it exceptionally difficult to concentrate on any one source of sound.
4. Listening Fatigue
Last, you may notice that you’re more fatigued than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For people with hearing loss, the continuing struggle to hear, together with the effort to understand incomplete sounds, can contribute to severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is gradual and becomes more difficult to treat the longer you wait. 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 preserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.