If you have hearing loss, you would imagine it would be obvious, right?
Actually, that’s precisely the issue; many people believe it would. However, while severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to identify, mild to moderate gradual hearing loss can be far too subtle to detect. 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 difficult to perceive the everyday 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 earlier you attend to your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll get back.
So how can you identify the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Following are some of the hidden signs that suggest you should get a hearing assessment.
1. Difficulties hearing particular sounds
Frequently people think that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.
Don’t get trapped into this manner of reasoning. The truth is that hearing loss primarily impacts higher-frequency sounds. You may observe that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for example, because of the higher pitch of their voices.
This may lead you to believe that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when in truth, 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 until you turn around and face them. You are forced to depend on body language, and possibly lip reading, for supplementary information used to fill in the blanks.
Speech is composed of a range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The problem for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants convey the the majority of the meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.
If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is similar to reading a sentence with missing letters. For the most part, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may discover yourself replying inappropriately or asking people to repeat themselves regularly. You may also have difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in loud environments
With mild hearing loss, you can normally decode what others are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. As soon as background noise is introduced, however, the task usually becomes overwhelming.
You may find that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in noisy environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it highly difficult to focus on any single source of sound.
4. Mental Fatigue
Last, you may observe that you’re more exhausted than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For people with hearing loss, the continuing battle to hear, together with the effort to comprehend incomplete sounds, can bring about extreme exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is progressive and becomes more complicated to treat the longer you delay. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly suggest arranging a hearing test. By acting sooner, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.