If you suffer from hearing loss, you might think it would be obvious, right?
Well, that’s exactly the issue; many people assume it would. However, even though severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to recognize, mild to moderate gradual hearing loss can be too subtle to observe. That’s why, on average, people will wait more than five years from the onset of symptoms to seek help.
Imagine hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s challenging to notice the everyday changes, and it’s only when the tire becomes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to act.
Unfortunately, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partly recovered, but the earlier you deal with your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll get back.
So how can you discover the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Following are some of the hidden signs that suggest you should get a professional hearing assessment.
1. Difficulties hearing certain sounds
Oftentimes people believe that hearing loss impacts all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you believe you can hear all sounds normally.
Don’t get trapped into this mode of reasoning. The reality is that hearing loss principally impacts higher-frequency sounds. You might discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, due to the higher pitch.
This may lead you to believe that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when the truth is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Depending on context to comprehend speech
Someone is talking from behind you and you can’t understand what they’re saying unless you turn around. You are forced to depend on body language, and possibly lip reading, for additional information to fill in the blanks.
Speech is comprised of a range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the higher frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The issue for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants impart the most meaning yet are the most challenging 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 find yourself responding inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves regularly. You might also experience difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
With mild hearing loss, you can typically decipher what other people are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is presented, however, the task usually becomes overwhelming.
You may discover that it’s overwhelming 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 exceptionally difficult to focus on any single 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 people with hearing loss, the continuing battle to hear, together with the effort to understand incomplete sounds, can bring about severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is progressive and ends up being more complicated to treat the longer you wait. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly recommend scheduling a hearing test. By acting sooner, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.