If you suffer from hearing loss, you might assume it would be obvious, right?
Actually, that’s exactly the problem; most people presume it would. Unfortunately, although severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to recognize, mild to moderate gradual hearing loss can be far too subtle to observe. That’s the reason 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 slow leak in a tire. It’s challenging to recognize the daily changes, and it’s only when the tire goes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to act.
Regrettably, whereas tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partly 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 signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Here are several of the hidden signs that indicate you should get a professional hearing assessment.
1. Difficulty hearing specific sounds
Oftentimes people believe 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 caught up into this mode of thinking. 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, for example, due to the higher pitch.
This may lead you to think that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when in truth, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Relying on context to understand
Someone is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying unless you turn around. You have to rely on body language, and possibly lip reading, for additional information used to fill in the blanks.
Speech consists of an assortment of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The issue for those 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 similar to reading a sentence with missing letters. More often than not, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may discover yourself responding inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves constantly. You may also experience difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in noisy settings
With mild hearing loss, you can generally understand what other people are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is presented, on the other hand, the task often becomes overwhelming.
You may discover that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like restaurants or parties. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it highly difficult to focus on any single source of sound.
4. Listening Fatigue
Finally, you may notice that you’re more tired than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For individuals with hearing loss, the continuous fight to hear, combined with the effort to grasp incomplete sounds, can contribute to extreme exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is gradual and becomes more difficult to treat the longer you wait. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly encourage arranging a hearing test. By taking action earlier, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.