If you suffer from hearing loss, you might think it would be obvious, right?
Well, that’s precisely the problem; many people believe it would. Unfortunately, even though severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to recognize, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be far too subtle to notice. That’s the reason why, on average, people will wait more than five years from the onset of symptoms to seek out help.
Think of hearing loss as a gradual leak in a tire. It’s challenging to detect the daily changes, and it’s only when the tire goes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you decide to take action.
Regrettably, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partly restored, but the sooner you treat your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recover.
So how can you detect the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Below are several of the hidden signs that suggest you should consider a professional hearing assessment.
1. Trouble hearing specific sounds
Commonly people believe that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.
Do not get caught into this manner of reasoning. The truth is that hearing loss primarily affects higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, as an example, owing to the higher pitch of their voices.
This may lead you to believe that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when the reality is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Relying on context to understand
Somebody is speaking from behind you and you can’t understand what they’re saying unless you turn around. You are forced to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for supplementary information to fill in the blanks.
Speech is comprised of a wide range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The problem for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants present the the majority of the meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.
If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is comparable to 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 requesting people to repeat themselves frequently. You may also have difficulties hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in noisy settings
With mild hearing loss, you can normally understand what others are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is introduced, however, the task often becomes overwhelming.
You might find that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it incredibly difficult to focus on any one source of sound.
4. Listening Fatigue
Finally, you may notice that you’re more exhausted than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For people with hearing loss, the continual battle to hear, combined with the effort to grasp incomplete sounds, can lead to severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is progressive and becomes more complicated to treat the longer you delay. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only minor, we strongly recommend scheduling a hearing test. By acting earlier, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.