If you suffer from hearing loss, you might imagine it would be obvious, right?
Actually, that’s exactly the issue; most people believe it would. Unfortunately, although severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to recognize, mild to moderate progressive 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 seek out help.
Think of hearing loss as a gradual leak in a tire. It’s challenging to observe 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 act.
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 determine the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Here are some of the hidden signs that indicate you should get a professional hearing test.
1. Difficulties hearing specific sounds
Frequently 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.
Don’t get caught into this manner of reasoning. The truth is that hearing loss principally affects higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, because of the higher pitch of their voices.
This may possibly lead you to think that the individuals you can’t hear are mumbling, when the reality is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Depending on context to understand
Someone is speaking from behind you and you can’t understand what they’re saying unless you turn around and face them. You have to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for extra information to fill in the blanks.
Speech is composed of an assortment of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the higher frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The problem for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants present 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. More often than not, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself replying inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves regularly. You might also experience difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in loud surroundings
With mild hearing loss, you can normally decode what others are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is introduced, however, the task often becomes overwhelming.
You may discover that it’s overwhelming to hear in group settings or in noisy environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it extremely difficult to focus on any one source of sound.
4. Listening Fatigue
Last, you may notice 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 understand incomplete sounds, can bring about extreme 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 recommend scheduling a hearing test. By acting sooner, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.