Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Cyndi Connolly
Latest posts by Cyndi Connolly (see all)

Hearing loss can be hard to identify at first, but paying attention to these first signs is essential. Those with untreated hearing loss are more inclined to feel depressed, isolated, and later have memory issues.

Here are some of the main signs of hearing loss:

  • You have trouble communicating over the phone.
  • If two or more people are talking, you find it hard to understand conversations.
  • Sometimes you ask people to repeat what they said.
  • You have to turn up the volume of the TV so high that others comment on it.
  • When there is background noise, you struggle to understand others.
  • You think other people mumble a lot.
  • You have particular difficulty when you’re talking to women and children.

How we lose our hearing

Many individuals have a sensorineural hearing loss. This is caused by an issue with the inner ear (sensory) or auditory nerve (neural). The most common issue is within the inner ear, where delicate hair cells can be damaged over time.

Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include aging and noise exposure. There is generally no medical or surgical procedure that will fix or even reduce this kind of hearing loss. Thankfully, hearing aids have helped millions of people improve their speech understanding.

It is however not always easy to identify hearing loss by looking at the signs above.

Problems with identifying hearing loss

1. Hearing loss develops slowly

Hearing loss seldom happens all of a sudden. Over a long period of time, it typically occurs slowly–and is therefore at first virtually unnoticeable. This is because those affected slowly become accustomed to the early signs of hearing loss. Because the brain has long been able to compensate for hearing problems, hearing loss may already have arisen without the person even noticing.

The people around you will sometimes recognize something before you do it for the simple reason that if you don’t hear something, you usually don’t realize that you haven’t heard it. These hearing problems could result in tension with family members, as the family often insists on the affected person receiving help, and this is often met with resistance by the person with hearing loss. This period may last seven or more years before the loss of hearing and associated ongoing issues are finally accepted and treatment is sought

2. Hearing loss develops unevenly

One of the first things people with hearing loss say is “I hear people well, but I don’t understand what they’re saying.” This is because most hearing loss is not just a decrease in your personal hearing’s ‘ volume level’. Instead, hearing loss is first detected in the higher frequencies.

This can result in what is known as “discrimination loss” where it is possible to hear speech, but not to understand it. Discrimination loss means that the ear and brain cannot distinguish between certain speech sounds, especially those located close to each other. A higher frequency hearing loss means the tendency to lose the ability to distinguish higher frequency consonant sounds like ‘f’, ‘th’ and ‘s.’ They might mistake the word ‘fat’ with ‘sat’ for example.

If you have ever said the above phrase to yourself in a crowded place, being aware of the uneven nature of hearing loss will hopefully encourage you that your hearing loss is more serious than you might have considered.

3. Hearing loss is hard to accept

Even those impacted by hearing loss who realize that for a long time they are no longer able to hear completely often do nothing. We put off a hearing test with an audiologist or hearing treatment specialist by convincing ourselves that we can handle this small amount of hearing loss.

This is because it’s one thing to be conscious of your own hearing loss, but recognizing it as an issue isn’t that easy. People who struggle with impaired hearing may prevent themselves from seeking treatment because of the stigma of hearing loss, assuming that a hearing aid will make them look older or less intelligent.

The dilemma is that you face severe consequences if you leave it too late. Researchers found that our brains essentially lose the ability to perceive these lost sounds after about seven years. When you wait too long for assistance with hearing aids, even if you can physically hear those sounds again with your ears, the brain may not be able to decipher what is being heard correctly.

Coastal Hearing Clinic

Don’t leave the treatment of your hearing until it is too late. If you think you are having difficulty hearing, contact us to set up a hearing test.