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, even though severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to identify, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be too subtle to notice. That’s why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the beginning of symptoms to search for help.
Think of hearing loss as a gradual leak in a tire. It’s difficult to notice the day-to-day changes, and it’s only when the tire goes 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 certain extent recovered, but the sooner you attend to 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 some of the hidden signs that suggest you should get a hearing assessment.
1. Trouble hearing specific sounds
Oftentimes people think that hearing loss impacts all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you believe you can hear all sounds normally.
Do not get caught into this manner of reasoning. The reality is that hearing loss principally affects higher-frequency sounds. You may observe that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, because of the higher pitch of their voices.
This may lead you to believe that the people 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 rely on body language, and possibly lip reading, for extra information used to fill in the blanks.
Speech is composed of a wide range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the higher frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The problem for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants communicate the most meaning yet are the most challenging to hear.
If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is like reading a sentence with missing letters. Normally, 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 experience difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
With mild hearing loss, you can typically understand what others are saying, albeit with lots of effort. As soon as background noise is introduced, however, the task usually becomes overwhelming.
You might discover that it’s difficult 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 highly difficult to focus on any one source of sound.
4. Mental Fatigue
Finally, you may observe that you’re more exhausted than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For those with hearing loss, the persistent struggle to hear, combined with the effort to grasp incomplete sounds, can contribute to serious exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is gradual and becomes more complicated to treat the longer you wait. If you have any of these symptoms, even if they’re only minor, we strongly recommend arranging a hearing test. By acting sooner, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.